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DEARBORN - Ford is entering the playoff season in motorsports, and we’re playing to win, according to Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing.
“We are well-positioned to capture championships in all forms of racing from NASCAR and Global RallyCross to Formula Drift and NHRA,” said Allison. “Our current standing in all of the races fuels our confidence that we’re going to have a successful season this year.”
When it comes to fan interest in the U.S., NASCAR is the form of motorsports that most fans follow. And Ford has entered “the Chase” with two of the 12 drivers eligible to win the championship: Greg Biffle #16 and Matt Kenseth #17.
“If there is such a thing as a regular season in NASCAR, Ford won it,” said Allison.
In the first 26 races, Biffle and/or Kenseth were first in points for 22 weeks, and a Ford driver was either first or second in the standings throughout the entire season. Biffle won two races, and Kenseth one – the Daytona 500.
“That speaks to consistency,” said Allison. “It speaks to sustaining momentum, and it speaks to having momentum coming into the Chase.”
Coming into the Chase, there are 10 races and winner takes all, which is the Sprint Cup Championship. Last year, Carl Edwards tied for the championship (a first in NASCAR history), but lost the title on the first tie-breaker. This year, Allison says the expectations for a Ford title are high.
“Half the tracks are intermediate 1.5-mile oval, high-bank tracks where Ford does well,” said Allison. “So we like our chances. We’ve been consistent all year, and we’re going to give it a heck of a go because it’s our time.”
Biffle and Kenseth race with Ford Fusions. The first race in the Chase is this weekend at the Chicagoland Speedway.
Also in NASCAR, Ford is in a virtual lead in the Nationwide Series, in which Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., drives a Ford Mustang. Stenhouse, Jr., is virtually tied for the lead (one point away) heading into the final eight races.
“As the reigning champion, Stenhouse, Jr. is the odds-on favorite to repeat as a Ford champion in Nationwide,” said Allison.
Ford drivers race Mustangs in the NHRA “Funny Car” Series.
In NHRA, Ford has won more than half of the 17 races held to date. The championship series is a six-race playoff that consists of 10 drivers who have qualified to race for the “Wally” (the NHRA championship trophy).
Ford has five out of the 10 drivers eligible for the championship, with 15-time champion John Force, past champion Robert Hight, crew chief/past champion Mike Neff, Courtney Force, who is a rookie in her first season, and Tim Wilkerson.
“Ford is certainly well-positioned to recapture the Drivers’ Championship and we are virtually guaranteed to score a repeat win in the Manufacturers’ Championship in NHRA,” said Allison.
Ford competes in the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals this weekend at the zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Ford driver Tanner Foust races a Fiesta in Global RallyCross and is currently leading the Drivers’ Championship with two races to go. Ford is also a leading contender for the Manufacturers’ Championship.
“We won both Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships last year, and our goal is to repeat as champions this year,” said Allison.
The final two Global RallyCross races will be held on Sept. 29 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and on Oct. 30 in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center during the 2012 SEMA Show.
The Ford Mustang is raced in this series and Ford has won 66 percent of the races to date.
“We are leading in the Drivers’ Championship and intend to reclaim that title from two years ago,” said Allison.
Vaughn Gittin Jr., a past champion, currently leads the points with one race to go, with Mustang teammate Justin Pawlak fourth.
Gittin Jr. has won two of the last three events, and will look to clinch his second career championship in the season finale, Oct. 12-13, at Irwindale Speedway in California.