DEARBORN -- Carl Edwards says Ford race fans are very aware and very vocal about the company's success in the marketplace and the fact that it is being accomplished without government assistance. The Aflac Ford Fusion NASCAR Sprint Cup driver even hears it back home in Columbia, Mo., when he drives around town in either his Ford F-150 or Fusion Hybrid.
"I've been driving a Ford in NASCAR competition for something like seven years, and I've never seen people as excited about the products that Ford produces," said Edwards, who was among a group of Ford NASCAR, Formula Drift, and NHRA drivers who autographed items Thursday for Ford employees at various locations in Dearborn.
"When I am out and about, people will say, 'Hey, I just bought a Taurus,' or 'I am thinking about buying a Fusion hybrid,' or 'What's that Raptor?' People are really excited."
Although still searching for the company's first win of the season heading into the June 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, Ford Director of North America Motorsports Jamie Allison says Ford's overall racing program is delivering its marketing objective.
"We have been successful in showcasing our new production vehicles, such as Taurus, Fiesta, Raptor and Mustang, but it will really amplify our message when we reach Victory Lane," Allison said.
Edwards, ninth in the Sprint Cup standings after 14 of 36 races, feels that Ford is getting closer to capturing that elusive first victory of the season.
"A lot of races Matt Kenseth has run really well, Greg Biffle has run very well, Kasey Kahne has run very well and there has been a race or two where we've run well," he said. It's only gonna take that one win to open the floodgates."
"We just have to keep working on it and keep looking at all aspects of the car – engineering, aero, engines – and try to make it better," added Kenseth, fourth in the Sprint Cup standings in his Royal Crown Black Ford Fusion.
Meanwhile, Ford is dominating NHRA's Funny Car series, where Mustangs have won seven of 10 events. John Force Racing's Robert Hight, the defending champion, leads the driver standings on the strength of three consecutive wins, followed by a second-place finish.
"Things are going real good for us right now," acknowledged Hight. "But we definitely have to stay focused on safety. We had some meetings with some of the Ford execs and they are working on some really cool ideas to make our Ford Mustangs that we drive down the track even safer."
Hight's boss, teammate and father-in-law John Force is second in the standings while sister-in-law Ashley Force Hood is tied for third. That might make for interesting battle among teammates as the season progresses, but John says they all understand the objective.
"At the end of the day, if a Ford can win it, that's the job at hand," said Force. "We would like to win it at John Force Racing, but if it's (Tim) Wilkerson or (Bob) Tasca, as long as a Ford wins. We've got a pretty good shot, though."