Since last summer, Brad Keselowski has been banging the Ford’s are at a disadvantage drum. While some see that as controversial, I see it as he’s right. Yes, you can look at Homestead and see that Ford has half of the Championship 4 in NASCAR’s premiere series. But, if you take a deeper look, you’d see that they didn’t make it there on pure speed alone.
It is pretty clear that Ford and Chevrolet had an aero and speed differential compared to the Toyota’s last season. Toyota rolled out a new car for 2017 and flat dominated. Toyota drivers won 14 of the final 19 races, including eight of the 10 in the playoffs. It was their series and everyone else was just racing in it.
Now, Chevrolet is debuting a new car for 2018, meaning two of the three manufacturers will have brand new cars unveiled in the last two years. Chevy wouldn’t be going to a new car if they didn’t feel there was an aero problem there. Same for Toyota the year before. They’d adapted, adjusted and prepared for the future.
Ford hasn’t yet. They’re still in the same car for 2018 as they were for 2016 and 2017. Keselowski, warned at Homestead last November that they’d be junk in 2018 because of this.
Well, is he right?
Kevin Harvick doesn’t necessarily think so, but who really knows at this point. What we do know is, if stats hold true, Toyota will be battling up front again and Chevy will increase their numbers, so someones has to go down. By process of elimination, it has to be Ford, and their numbers weren’t too high last year to go down from.
That’s what Keselowski is saying and what has him worried. Away from restrictor plate tracks and the short tracks, Ford may not hold a candle to Toyota and Chevy in 2018.
But, will Chevy necessarily contend right away? While Toyota’s dominated 2018, it took them arguably a full half of the season to really get their footing with the new car. They won just two of the first 17 races and had only eight wins in the regular season. It took Joe Gibbs Racing 19 races to find victory lane for crying out loud. But, once they did, the wins kept coming.
In 2016, Toyota stormed out of the gates and won eight of the first 13 races of the season. They’d in fact win 12 of the 26 regular season events. But, they struggled in the playoffs taking home just three wins. Hence the new car from them for 2017.
I expect Chevy to have a learning curve too and it may take them the same amount of time it took the Toyota drivers to adjust. The thing going for Chevy though is they have way more drivers at their disposal to learn this new car with. Toyota really had just six. Chevy will have at least 10. But, a lot of those Chevy drivers are inexperienced themselves though.
2018 will be a year of aero and engine wars between the manufacturers.