DEARBORN - As we look to the kickoff for NASCAR this weekend with the Daytona 500, @Ford Online sat down with Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing, to talk about the upcoming year and what we can expect at Sunday’s big race.
Q. What can we look forward to in the year’s racing season?
A. Ford is involved in all forms of racing and there are numerous Fords racing on any given weekend. From factory support in North America the company is involved in four forms: NASCAR – starting this weekend, NHRA – which started last weekend, Action Sports/Global RallyCross and Sport car racing in Grand-AM and WC.
What to expect? I like how we started. Last week Courtney Force won the NHRA opening round at Pamona in her funny car Ford Mustang. Go Courtney! She had a great rookie season, winning rookie of the year, and this year she just picked up where she left off.
For NASCAR, the big weekend is this weekend at the Daytona 500. It’s going to be an exciting weekend. Racing in trucks on Friday, racing Mustang on Saturday and racing the all-new Fusion on Sunday.
It will be an exciting reason for a couple of reasons in Sprint Cup. We’ve introduced brand identity and our exciting array of Fusions fielded by our great teams.
Q. What teams should we keep our eyes on?
A. Ford. The great part about this season is the strength of our teams: Penske Racing, Roush Fenway, Wood Brother’s Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports and Germain Racing.
We should look out for all of these Fords. In Daytona it’s less about where you qualify and more about how the race unfolds – momentum, drafting and avoiding wrecks. Two years ago Trevor Bayne started last and won the race.
It does not matter where you start, it matters how you race. It matters how smart you race and how lucky you get avoiding wrecks – especially in Daytona.
Everybody has their fingers crossed. We’ve got great cars, great drivers and great teams. May the best Ford win.
Q. Can you share more about the new cars?
A. NASCAR stands for National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing. When it started, drivers and teams would go get cars from the dealership and prepare to go racing. They were stock cars. But that changed bit by bit over the years. As technology and more aerodynamics prevailed the car took on more of an amorphous shape losing its identity.
The cars that we’re raced over the last few years all the cars looked the same with different decals. The emotional connection in the sport was lost. That bond comes from seeing the same car on the track and on the street. Our aim is to return that emotional connection with cars they see on the track so they want to see them in their driveways.
We worked actively with other OEMs and NASCAR to ensure the competitiveness doesn’t change, yet you can easily identify a Ford from a Chevy or Toyota.
When you look at the car you will see the elements that make it unmistakably Fusion. From the grille form to the character lines in the hood and side, you have a sexy-looking, streamlined Fusion race car.
Q. What makes Daytona so special?
A. It’s interesting when you reflect on this. In most sporting events the culmination or finale is usually where you see the big race. But to have the very first race be the pinnacle is even more special.
It’s a tradition, a legacy, a rite of passage and icon.
Daytona is a superspeedway 2.5 miles around. It also has restrictor plate racing. All the engines are restricted to certain output of horsepower because unrestricted the cars could travel at speeds more than 220 mph.
That’s why you see proximity in Daytona. They race in packs, draft is critical – cars that are in the draft travel faster than cars by themselves and finding momentum.
Racing at Daytona is the height of skill, lots of luck of being in the right place to avoid the wrecks. One loose car can take 10 to 20 cars with it, that’s why big wrecks tend to happen at Daytona.