Penske says addition of SHR to Ford camp "makes us better"

Team owner Roger Penske believes the addition of Stewart-Haas Racing to the Ford camp this season has made the manufacturer’s NASCAR contingent stronger, including his own organization.

Penske says addition of SHR to Ford camp "makes us better"
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Race winner Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, Roger Penske
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford, Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford, affixes the winners decal to his car in Victory Lane after winning
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning

“It’s a great race team and they have terrific drivers,” Penske told Motorsport.com following Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski’s win at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night.

SHR driver Kevin Harvick led 292 of the 325 laps but lost his shot at the victory with a late-race pit road speeding penalty. Fellow SHR driver Kurt Busch won last weekend’s season-opening Daytona 500.

“You have to have great talent and certainly when you look at (Rodney) Childers (Harvick’s crew chief) and look at the other guys like Tony Gibson (Busch’s crew chief), they’re all excellent,” he said.

“Ford has done a real good job working with us and working with them. Really, you have to give Roush Yates a big pat on the back for the engines. We don’t do anything with the engines, just put them in.

“They (SHR) had so much capability with their people and you give them the tools and they know how to put the tools and the people together. I think that’s what you’ve seen in the last two weeks.”

Ford is now 2-0 on the season but what stood out in Sunday’s race were strong performances from all of the manufacturer’s top teams.

A stronger Ford camp

Even Roush Fenway Racing, whose Cup series program has struggled in recent years, saw its two drivers – Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – run in the top-10 virtually the entire race. They finished 12th and 13th, respectively.

“When (Ford Racing officials) came to us and said they wanted to bring Stewart-Haas on, we said we want to because it would make us better,” Penske said. “Roush hasn’t had that good of seasons recently so it was hard to know where we were benchmarked in relation to other teams.

“We were strong last week (at Daytona) and you saw Kurt capitalized at the right time. We worked well together. If you talk to Kevin (Harvick), he’s thrilled with the response from the Ford technical people.

“That’s the kind of thing that makes the difference.”

Penske believes the entire Ford contingent will only improve as the season goes on.

“Everyone knows how good the Toyotas and Chevrolets have been and now we can say we’re at least on par with them,” he said. “And with two victories, you could say we’ve moved a little bit ahead.”

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