Anticipation High for Ford
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on February 6, 2017 | 6:00 P.M. EST
Ford adds Stewart-Haas Racing to its lineup in 2017.
Ford officials are poised for what they believe will be a successful year in NASCAR.
The manufacturer enters the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season hoping to come away with the championship. The addition of Stewart-Haas Racing to its line-up that also includes Team Penske, Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and Front Row Motorsports has the Ford camp optimistic about what lies ahead.
“It’s gonna be exciting this year to include Stewart-Haas in the lineup of Fords on the track and to level the playing field a bit – have more bullets in the gun and go out there and use everything we’ve learned from aerodynamics, our engine technology and some of the other things we’ve done with the teams – some of the tools that we’ve created and our simulator and everything else and bring it all together so that you can see more Fords running up front,” said Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance.
The transition of SHR from Chevrolet to Ford has gone relatively well. While there are expected challenges ahead, Pericak believes those will be minimal and is enthused about the way the new partnership has started.
“The bumps in the road, I would say that we’re doing everything in our power to try to minimize those,” he said. “I feel pretty good coming out of the Phoenix test as to where we are and our ability to hit the ground running with Stewart-Haas, but you asked specifically about our role. Our role as Ford Performance is to bring all of our resources to bear for Stewart-Haas as they make the transition and make sure we’re giving them every opportunity to be successful.
“Whether it’s the engineers that I have within my team, whether it’s the facilities that we have at Ford. Of the tools that we use, it’s our duty to make sure that we are servicing them in every way possible, so that they can hit that track and be successful, and I feel very confident that you will see that.”
One of those “bumps” is the sponsorship issues around Danica Patrick’s car. SHR filed a lawsuit against sponsor Nature’s Bakery last week in a $31 million breach of contract.
However, Pericak reiterated the team’s stance that no matter the outcome, Patrick and the No. 10 entry will be on track this year.
“I’m hopeful that we’re gonna come to a resolution on that, but at the end of the day what I can say is that you have my commitment and the commitment of Stewart-Haas Racing and everyone that’s involved that it is not gonna affect our ability to hit the track and run that car and run it the way that it needs to be run,” he said.
“I don’t really want to make any additional comments given where we are in the whole situation, and it’s very unfortunate that we’re going through it right now, but one way or another I can just tell you that you will have that 10 car on the track and it will be ready to perform.”
Pericak also reinforced the manufacturer’s approach that a concerted effort across all organization under Ford’s umbrella will again be the mantra of 2017.
“The message really is continuing to advance the One Ford approach to racing,” he said. “I think we’ve done a really good job over the last couple of years of getting that mentality, working to the teams of helping each other and leveraging each other where it makes sense. Of course, race teams are race teams and everybody wants to be the one that wins.
“I think at the end of the day what we really need to do if we’re gonna be successful as an organization is continue to work together where it makes sense and leverage all of our resources and our expertise and our knowledge so that we can translate that to victories on the track. I think they’ve heard that from me before and they’re gonna continue to hear it – that a One Ford approach to racing is what’s gonna pay off at the end of the day to having more Fords get across the finish line.”