Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

So is this season going to be a good ol' Ford-vs-Chevy war? Tensions are rising

  Bill Elliott showed the fastest Ford in Daytona 500 qualifying (Photo: Autostock)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Meanwhile, over in the Ford camp.....just what is going on?
   Carl Edwards dominated much of the Saturday Shootout – until he got bumped out of the way by Juan Pablo Montoya.
   Then Greg Biffle, with a no-pit-stop gamble at the end, had a great shot to win – only to get drop-kicked out of the way by Jeff Gordon, triggering that huge last lap crash.
    Is this shaping up as a Chevy-Ford war on the NASCAR tour?  Or are all these guys, even Mark Martin, who's been involved in two crashes already, just making a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes?
    The Biffle-Gordon thing is particularly curious. Gordon, after all, was the guy who at Talladega last fall told NASCAR that bump-drafting wasn't such a great idea...and then he takes it to the next level himself, at Biffle's expense.
    What to make of that? A new 'intimidator' on the tour?
   Well, Greg Biffle is probably not a guy to turn the other cheek. And the two are both in the first 150 Thursday. That might be a good test for NASCAR officials, who have said they're going to let drivers police themselves here.
   While Biffle's no-tire stop didn't seem to pay off, Kasey Kahne – one of Ford's newest, with the 'merger' of George Gillett's Richard Petty Motorsports with the Jack Roush-Doug Yates operation – did make his no-tire gamble pay off, with a second-place finish in the crash-ending Shootout.
    Kahne? Well, he was top-dog at Petty-Gillett last year when it was a Dodge operation. And this year Kahne has essentially the same roster, Kenny Francis back as crew chief, just with Ford decals on the common-template bodies and Roush-Yates horsepower under the hood.
    This SpeedWeeks Ford teams are playing with their new FR9 motor, trying to put some practice miles on it; but they plan to run the old motor in the 500. And Kahne and the other Ford guys had the old motor in for the Shootout, where it certainly seemed to have plenty of punch.
    Drivers are dealing with a bit more horsepower here, with the slightly larger restrictor plate, maybe as much as 15 more horsepower than last year. They generally seem to like that. Coupled with a little more downforce on the rear, they seem able to make runs a little more easily than last year.
   However dirty air is still dirty air, and anyone trapped back in the pack is in trouble. And passing for the lead still appears somewhat tricky.
   On top of that, Jamie McMurray, who finished third in the Shootout, said that after crashes in practice drivers were a little leery of how hard to push things in the Shootout.
   Well, except for Gordon, who managed to take out all three Roush men in the Shootout with that final bump.
   And Gordon did say he expected drivers to be a little more cautious in the 150s, since those cars will be the 500 cars, not Shootout throwaways.
   Plus Thursday's two 150s are all-but meaningless, aside from determining pit positions, since last year's top-35 in the final standings are all guaranteed starting spots.

  Carl Edwards (99) and Kevin Harvick (outside) at the start of Saturday's Bud Shootout (Photo: Autostock)

   One potential issue – NASCAR is cutting race purses this season, and that could have an impact on how many cars show up at some tracks. There are 54 cars here vying for the 43 spots; but only 40 of those teams are expected to try to run the full tour.
   Last year, with the sluggish U.S. economy hurting team sponsorships, a number of teams used the start-and-park strategy, going for last-place money. That became a controversial issue, particularly on the Truck tour, where at one race there appeared to be only about 23 'regular' full-time teams in the field.
   In fact, that's one major reason that Danica Patrick is getting such a big welcome into this sport – because it's hoped she will liven up the sponsorship part of the game, and not just for herself.
    But back to the Fords.
    Last season wasn't pretty; Chevrolets dominated, even though Ford's Matt Kenseth won the year's first two races – Daytona, in the rain, aided by a series of mistakes by Dale Earnhardt Jr.; and California straight-up.
   Will this season be better for Blue Oval guys? Pre-season they were clearly fired up, and new racing boss Jamie Allison has been cheering them along.
    Kahne, in a contract renewal season, and sporting Budweiser as sponsor, is centerstage at the moment. And he seems quite pleased with his new Ford stuff so far.
    "The racing was good, it was side-by-side, there was a lot going on, and we were right there," Kahne said of the Shootout.
    Yes, Kevin Harvick did beat Kahne, but Harvick was on fresh tires, while Kahne's were worn.
    Harvick jumped in front of Kahne just after the final restart, but Kahne said "I was pushing him, and I was right on the white line (low).
   "I was like 'Man, the tires aren't too bad.'"
    In the race itself "We were sliding around a lot, and bouncing off the track (a number of drivers complained about the bumpiness)," Kahne said.  "The car was doing some things we didn't exactly want it to do. But it handled awesome, and was really fast."
     Kahne said his car "slid around a lot, but it was fast that way. And I thought it was some pretty exciting racing. I was on edge from the time it
went green, even in the first 25. 
    "In intros there were guys saying 'Should we take it easy?  Should we do this?  Should we do that?'
    "But I felt was 'on' from the time the green flag came out. I was getting hit, and I was hitting cars.
    "The biggest thing is you can just get some huge bursts of speed, and some big pushes.
    "My engine is so much different, and my car runs so much different than it has in the past. It's hard to say it was 'this, or that' that made you feel that way. There were a lot of changes."
     Kahne called Doug Yates' horsepower "unbelievable."
   Particularly, apparently, in throttle response and on restarts: "You can get speed up quicker," Kahne says.
   "The biggest difference was just the engine -- from the time it goes green, up through the gears, second, third, fourth, it just pulls hard." 
   That was the 'old' Ford engine. The new Ford FR9 is something of a mystery. Bill Elliott and the Woods are going to run the FR9 at all of the some-dozen races they'll be in this season, so that's the baseline. The rest of the Ford camp will change over to the FR9 eventually, probably late spring.
   But what the FR9 really brings to the table isn't clear. It is designed to run cooler, which would allow more tape on the nose and more front downforce, critical for turning in the corners. However NASCAR has thrown a wrench in all that with its new flat-blade rear spoiler, which is expected to change the aerodynamic issues all the way.
    And that makes the Charlotte test next month interesting – it will be a major test for all teams of the new spoiler.


      [Note: You can use Twitter as an easy headline service for mikemulhern.net stories, with our instant Tweets to your mobile as soon as our newest NASCAR story is filed. And mikemulhern.net is mobile-friendly for viewing. You can also use the orange RSS feed button as a quickie headline service on your laptop or home computer for mikemulhern.net stories, by creating a Live Bookmark RSS feed on your web browser's toolbar. Or you can create a Google Alert for mikemulhernnet.]

  And Kasey Kahne had the best finishing Ford at the end of Saturday night's Shootout (Photo: Autostock)


No need to car-hype the Ford

No need to car-hype the Ford Versus Chevy deal at Daytona!!!!!

Nascar has always let Daytona and Talladega be Chevy's playground! The last race a Ford dominated Daytona was in 2000 and Nascar made sure it didnt happen again!Remember the Daytona Trophy is named after former GM employee Harley Earl, now they put a 40 year GM employee John Middlebrook in a key position!, plus he probably is still getting a pension from GM! No conflict hey????? Why should Car Fans other than GM OR Chevy go to Daytona and Talladega?

If you don't believe me, just get the laps led at Daytona and Talladega for the last 12 years, include Bud Shoot Out, 125 qualifiers and especially the laps led dept and what you will find out is a total one-sided race in GM's columns, at one time GM or Chevy had won 16 out of 18 races at Talladega; just let another brand even try to win 4 in a row and see what happens!

I hope I am wrong; I don't see anything different this year! Just look at how they qualified, mostly in the back and mid-field, Carl Edwards leading at the first of the BUD SHOOTOUT was not big deal; when it's crunch time to win, it's always one of the Chevys that gets to take home the bacon!

By Carl Edwards leading the first of the race, which does not count much, will not get Ford Fans to Daytona, as Dodge or Toyota as well! Been there and seen too many replays!

Notice a trend here, if it's not Hendrick, it moves to RCR; now that Ganassi is in Chevys its seems it's always one of the Status Quo Chevy wins especially at Daytona the SUPER BOWL!

Just let another brand start to dominate, Toyota is finding out already
you are only allowed to dominate with a 'BOWTIE' ON THE HOOD!

well, i can't argue with your

well, i can't argue with your stats about chevrolet. but remember robert yates....the problem here, IMHO, is Jack Roush has always pushed the mid-sized tracks, because there are more of them, and he's never been enthusiastic about the plate places, which may go back to the Mark Martin days.....robert always pushed daytona...and remember some of those behind-the-scenes political battles among those two ford camps....i think ford sometimes misses the boat on the political angles in nascar -- like danica: here is ford, which has been promoting women in racing for years, and no female angle.

I agree with the above

I agree with the above poster. The bowties have been allowed to dominate at Daytona and that is likely not going to change. Except for a couple years in the 90's with Yates cars, the Fords come to Daytona with virtually no chance to win. This year will be the same thing. Last year was a fluke with Kenseth. While great for Ford fans, it's not likely to be the same outcome again if a full race is run. I certainly view Ford's prospects better when the new engine comes into play. It's lighter, has much better cooling, and better power potential. My guess is by year end, the Roush cars will be right there with the Hendrick cars. We'll see though.....

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com