2017 Ford Preview: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

2017 Ford Preview: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

 

2017 Chartered Ford Teams
No. Driver Organization Crew Chief
2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Paul Wolfe
4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Rodney Childers
6 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Matt Puccia
 10 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Billy Scott
 14 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Mike Bugarewicz
 17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.  Roush Fenway Racing Brian Pattie
 21 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Jeremy Bullins
 22  Joey Logano Team Penske Todd Gordon
32 Matt DiBenedetto Go Fas Racing Gene Nead
34  Landon Cassill Front Row Motorsports  Donnie Wingo
38  David Ragan Front Row Motorsports TBA
 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Tony Gibson
 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports  Drew Blickensderfer
72 Cole Whitt TriStar Motorsports Frank Kerr

 

2016 Season Highlights

  • 8 wins
  • 2016 NASCAR Cup Series Runner-Up (Joey Logano)
  • 2016 All-Star Race Victory (Joey Logano)
  • Daytona – July Victory (Brad Keselowski)

The 2016 season, in large part, was a challenging one for Ford. Team Penske produced the vast majority of success for the manufacturer earning seven points-paying race wins. The other Ford teams produced only one other victory: Chris Buescher’s win in a rain/fog-shortened race at Pocono.

For the third season in a row, Joey Logano produced a deep playoff run and was able to earn his second Championship Four berth in the past three years. Logano won a total of three races (not including his All-Star victory) including two elimination race wins at Talladega and Phoenix. Logano and Crew Chief Todd Gordon have proven time and again they are capable of performing when it matters most.

Keselowski is a consistent winner year in and year out and 2016 was no exception. Brad Keselowski won four of the first 18 races but went winless throughout the remainder of the season. He was eliminated after the Round of 12 following a wreck at Kansas and engine failure at Talladega. Although he was not able to earn his second Cup Series title, he still has a lot to show for his effort and will remain competitive going forward.

Chris Buescher achieved his first win and playoff berth by virtue of his strategic victory at Pocono in August. The win was huge for his Front Row Motorsports team and allowed him to earn some playoff experience without experiencing a tremendous amount of pressure or expectation. Buescher has since departed Front Row for JTG Daugherty but his time there should be considered a success.

Wood Brothers Racing’s Ryan Blaney experienced an up and down rookie season. He brought home three top-five finishes including tying his Cup Series career-best finish of fourth twice at Michigan and Chicagoland.

Roush Fenway Racing struggled mightily in 2016. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, and Greg Biffle finished 21st-22nd-23rd in points, respectively. The team has since been reduced to a two-car organization and should pay dividends as resources will be more concentrated going forward. Roush knows what it takes to perform at the pinnacle of stock car racing and will look to return to the top.

Roush Fenway Racing will not be the only Ford team to reduce operations in 2017 as Richard Petty Motorsports have transitioned from fielding two cars to only one with Aric Almirola at the wheel.  Brian Scott earned RPM’s lone top-five finish at Talladega in October and has since retired from racing.

2017 Preview

Stewart-Haas Racing will make the switch to Ford for 2017. The move brings a competitive team with a championship pedigree to the Ford Performance fold. SHR’s past experiences should be helpful to the entire Ford family and should greatly benefit everyone involved.

However, there may still be a learning curve for Stewart-Haas. The transition from one manufacturer to another is a challenge in and of itself, but Stewart-Haas will also be adding chassis building to their in-house responsibilities; which is something they have not done in years past.

Although Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch should be able to win races and make playoff runs, it remains to be seen how Clint Bowyer will adjust to life at Stewart-Haas as well as how Danica Patrick will perform in her fifth full-time season in NASCAR’s elite division.

Team Penske returns their core of Keselowski and Logano as well as their duo of crew chiefs. Undoubtedly, they will be able to continue their storied tradition and could possibly add a second Cup Series championship this season.

Bottom Line

Keselowski and Logano are once again primed for multiple wins and deep playoff runs. Team Penske has proven they are among NASCAR’s elite and continuously bring fast cars to the track. It should not be surprising to anyone if Penske is able to bring home the Cup Series crown this year.

The jury is out on Stewart-Haas Racing right now considering the abundance of changes. However, there are few teams that are as well equipped to handle such transition as SHR. The team has a championship pedigree and has tasted success. Expectations should be tempered for Stewart-Haas at first, but anything is possible for this group.

Photo Credit: Greg Atkins