HOMESTEAD, Fla – For the second consecutive season, we have the same four organizations competing for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. The 2018 title on the owners side will come down to Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Penske, Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing. While three of the four drivers are the same too (Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr.) the only difference is that this year, it’s Joey Logano representing Penske not Brad Keselowski.
But, this time around, the Fords are the favorites. Last year, it was the other way around. Ford was looked at to have a deficit and would be taking a knife to a gun fight. This season, Ford’s have been the superior manufacturer.
For that, Penske thinks that the move that Stewart-Haas Racing made from Chevrolet to Ford for 2017 and beyond was the reason as to why.
“I want to touch on something a little bit earlier as it relates specifically to Stewart-Haas, “said Walt Czarnecki, executive vice president, Penske Corporation and vice chairman of Team Penske. “Having them come into the Ford camp was a huge plus for everybody who runs the Ford oval. I think Tony (Stewart) and Gene (Haas) and everybody over there helped us elevate our game, and I think that under the corporate aegis of Ford Motor Company, they got us working together, and I think, frankly, it’s one of the reasons we’re here today. We’re still competitors, and we make that very clear, but I think in some ways we might have been able to help SHR, and I think in some ways they’ve been able to assist us, so I want to make sure that we recognize that point, our friends in Dearborn for doing that.”
Ford has led 5,657 of the 9,983 laps in 2018. That’s 57-percent of the overall laps run in the 35 races run and more than what Toyota (2,917) and Chevrolet (1,409) has led combined.
In terms of race wins, Ford has 18 trips to victory lane in 2018. Again, that’s more than what Toyota (13) and Chevy (4) have combined too. The 18 wins are the most in a single season for the blue ovals since 1997 when they won 19 times.
Lets look at Ford’s progress through. Prior to SHR coming on board last season, Ford has single digit victories in seven of the previous eight years.
The last two years, SHR has won 15 times with Ford. Penske, has won 11. The only other Ford team to win in that time frame is Roush/Fenway Racing with two trips to victory lane wit Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2017.
Tony Stewart calls the compliments humbling but agrees with Czarnecki.
“It’s very humbling,” said the three time drivers champion. “Obviously Roger Penske is probably the greatest car owner the world has ever seen in motorsports as far as all the spectrums of racing that they cover. That’s a huge compliment. You know, and it’s fun. It’s been, like Walt mentioned, amazing to work with Ford. It has helped us take our program, obviously, to a level that it’s never seen before, and the Penske side and the partnerships that we have together, I mean, we help raise the bar for ourselves amongst each other, and that transfers on the weekends to the rest of the competition.
“We’re proud of that partnership with Ford. We’re proud of the working relationship we have with Penske and Roush and the other Ford organizations. Together we continue just to press each other harder to make our programs better.”