Click here to visit the Motorsports page for all the latest news and information.
DEARBORN - Ford has gotten off to a tremendous start on-track with our NASCAR program this season, with Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers winning the Daytona 500 to kick off the year, and Carl Edwards currently leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings coming into this week’s race at Michigan International Speedway. In addition, Ford's Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series is off to a hot start, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is in the fight for that series title. Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing, talked with @Ford about how the 2011 season and tells fans they should watch for as the season continue
Q: Can you provide us with a quick recap of Ford Racing’s success so far this season beginning with Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers winning the Daytona 500. How incredible – and unexpected – was that?
A: There’s no question we’re off to a great start this year, not just in NASCAR, but in everywhere we choose to compete. We lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, the NHRA Funny Car championship, the Global Rallycross championship, and the manufacturers’ championship in Grand-Am Continental Tires with the Boss 302R.
The Daytona 500 win was an incredible way to kick off the season. Not only was it just in Trevor Bayne’s second Cup start, but it was our 600th win in NASCAR and we finished 1-2-3.
This is our 110th season of racing, and there was great emphasis to making sure we returned our programs to championship status.
Q: How about Carl Edwards’ performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup?
A: Carl is a championship-level driver. He has won a championship in the Nationwide Series, and won eight races in 2008 and just about won the Cup title. So we are not surprised that he is leading the points right now.
But Carl is not the only one running well. Matt Kenseth has already won a couple of races, Trevor won one, and the rest of the Ford Racing drivers – Greg Biffle, David Ragan, Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allmendinger – have all been knocking on the door.
There have been 14 Cup races this year. We have won five of them, and finished second in two others. We have also won five Nationwide races, so we have 10 NASCAR wins already.
Q: And how is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. doing behind the wheel of the Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series?
A: Ricky has proven to a lot of people how competitive he can be. He has come a long way since last year, and we’re happy for him because he has a real great chance to win the Nationwide championship this year in the Mustang.
He got his first NASCAR win earlier this year, and now he expects to be running up front with the Cup drivers every week. And he did a great job filling in for Trevor with the Wood Brothers in his Cup debut last month.
There’s no doubt that the Mustangs have proven to be great race cars – and they should be – and the FR9 engine power has made big difference for us this season.
Q: Why do you think Ford drivers/team owners are doing so well this season? To what do you attribute their success?
A: There’s no question in my mind that a big reason for our success is the One Ford approach we are taking with our teams, our drivers and our crew chiefs. By getting everyone working together for the betterment of the program, they’re seeing that if one team wins, all Ford teams win.
That couldn’t be done without the leadership of people like Jack Roush, Richard Petty and the Wood Brothers.
Certainly, this first full season of the FR9 engine has made a huge difference for us, and our simulation tools have been upgraded. In addition, we’re working well with the support of the Ford product development community, especially in powertrain development.
Q: What other races/drivers should Ford Racing fans be watching closely this season?
A: Well, this weekend I hope people will be watching Michigan closely to see how we do in NASCAR. It’s been a great track for us – 31 wins for Ford – and we’ll have the new 2012 Focus pacing the race with Mark Fields driving the car at the start.
We’re excited to be going there – we see it as our home track - and hopefully we’ll see a great turnout of employees in the grandstands – both this weekend and when they come back in August.
In NHRA, the closest race to Dearborn for most employees is Norwalk, Ohio next week (June 23-26), where you will get a chance to see John Force Racing and Bob Tasca III compete.
Grand-Am’s closest race to here will be in September 16-17 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It’s the final race of the season for the Boss 302R, so hopefully we’ll have a chance to celebrate a championship there.
Finally, our Rally program’s biggest race is ESPN’s X Games, which take place the last weekend of July in Los Angeles. We have taken home the Gold Medal the last two years there in Rally Car competition, and we have some great Fiesta drivers and cars ready to try and take home our third straight title.
Q: Why is it important for Ford to bring drivers and team owners to Dearborn and “immerse” them in Ford products?
A: First off, they are a part of our Ford family, and they are interested in what we are doing as a business. Plus, they interact with millions of race fans – in person, on TV or through social media – so it is important they know about our products and our company, and to understand how good our cars and trucks are. This kind of day makes them more credible spokespeople.
We also get a chance to show them and demonstrate to them the support we provide, in terms of PD and technical help, as well as using this day to help leverage our marketing efforts and for consumer outreach.
It’s important to remember, racing is an integral part of our business. Our research confirms that 40% of new car buyers are race fans, and these drivers help us reach them. The old adage – win on Sunday, sell on Monday – does work. So, here’s to more wins!