Strong team effort is leading to Ford's resurgence
Before three Fords were wiped out at Kansas Speedway on Saturday night, the Blue Oval was having one of its best years to date.
After Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s win at Talladega, Ford Performance was batting .500 for the season. Kurt Busch collected his first Daytona 500 win after returning to the Ford camp following a 12-year hiatus. Team Penske has led the charge with a combined three wins from Brad Keselowski (2) and Joey Logano.
Last year, Keselowski had collected two wins in the first 10 races. It would be five more events until another Ford (Logano) landed in Victory Lane. But Stewart-Haas Racing has been a welcome addition — with three new playoff contenders (Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Busch) in the stable.
The downsizing of both Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports has paid dividends for both organizations. Prior to Almirola’s fiery crash on Saturday, he had led more laps and posted more top fives and top 10s than the year before.
Trevor Bayne shaved four positions from last year’s average finish. Before he was swept up in the 18-car wreck at Talladega, Bayne had finished on the lead lap in every race. He accomplished that goal on Saturday at Kansas with his second top-10 finish.
Roush, who never lost faith in Stenhouse, celebrated their first win together. The driver, who was 19th in the standings after 11 races last year with one top five and two top 10s, has already surpassed those stats and doubled his laps led for the entirety of 2016.
Jack Roush sees the improvement
Jack Roush — a long-time member of the Ford fraternity — has seen a renewed spirit of cooperation among the Blue Oval teams.
“Ford has got a technical center that applies cement on the teams,” Roush said. “Of course their management group spends time moving from team to team reminding us that it's one Ford and that we should be ‑‑ look at our other Ford teammates as being closer to us than the rest of the field, and it's easier for me to do that because I've been a Ford guy since 1964. But you know, for the people that have come more recently, it's probably a little harder sell sometimes.
“We've got a lot of speed with our Fords, and the Ford technical group I think is the top of their game right now, and we've got good fast cars and good fast engines, and it's a matter of us to execute correctly on the racetrack, keep it on the black stuff, and get our share of victories.”
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