By on April 18, 2018

Mustang goes to NASCAR Cup

In the halcyon days of NASCAR, men drove coupified versions of machines one could actually buy on the showroom floor: rear-drive Thunderbirds, Grand Prix coupes, and Monte Carlos simultaneously plied both racetracks and dealer lots as recently as the 1980s. Race fans know what happened by 1989, of course, when GM slapped the names of mid-size front-drivers on their V8 NASCAR racers, with Ford following suit within the next 10 years.

Last year, GM made an infinitely logical move, bringing its Camaro nameplate to to the top-tier Winston Nextel Sprint Monster Energy Cup Series. Ford’s now mercifully following suit, binning the Fusion and putting a Mustang in the hands of those who choose to run the Blue Oval.

It’ll be the fourth different Ford nameplate in the “modern-era”, loosely defined as beginning in 1972 when RJ Reynolds took the marketing reins and the decision was made to chop the racing schedule from 48 to 31 events in a single season. It was also around this time that a new points system was introduced (urban legend: the points system was designed on the back of a bar napkin at Boot Hill Saloon in Daytona Beach) remaining unchanged until Brian France introduced the asinine byzantine Chase system in 2004.

I digress. Back to Ford, and their new-for-Cup Mustang. The nameplate has been fielded in the second-tier Xfinity Series since 2011 but, according to Ford officials, the Cup-level Mustang is still going through testing and will be formally submitted to NASCAR for approval this summer.

Ford Performance has six organizations and a baker’s dozen teams in Cup-level NASCAR, including big names like Stewart-Haas, Roush-Fenway, and Penske. The venerable Wood Brothers still field their #21 Ford, too. That promo pic from Ford doesn’t tell us much; let’s brighten it up a bit, shall we?

Mustang goes to NASCAR Cup

That’s better. Not a bad looking hot rod.

“We tried to leverage the skill across all of our teams,” Rushbrook said. “We’ve had active engagements from Roush Fenway Racing, Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing. They’ve been the main contributors to this, but (all of the teams) are anxious to get the best car on the track in 2019, so they’ve been very active with us.”

History teaches us that the introduction of a new model in NASCAR will cause carping on all sides. When the Taurus showed up in 1998, GM teams experienced apoplexy. The always colorful Felix Sabates, owner of two Chevrolet teams at the time, blurted “If that’s a stock car, my aunt is my uncle,” while Darrell Waltrip, also a bowtie racer, complained to any reporter who’d listen and generally frothed about the situation all season.

GM rolled out the Camaro ZL1 name in Cup this year, giving some top Chevy drivers fits while trying to figure out the new car. Seven-time champ Jimmie Johnson is currently mired seventeenth in points, with a brace of top-ten finishes to show for his efforts in the first eight races of this season. Right now, five of the top six drivers in the standings belong to the Ford family, and the manufacturer has won four of eight races in 2018.

The first series points race for Mustang will be the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2019.

[Image: Ford]

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22 Comments on “‘Murica! Ford Bringing the Mustang to Cup-Level Racing...”

  • avatar

    They also announced, almost simultaneously; that they will be using the mustang in australian supercars racing as well

    • 0 avatar

      Even better they will be using the coyote V8 in the supercar series so it will have a proper production based V8 instead of a vestigial pushrod engine and Hopefully a production derived IRS with super 8.8 differential.

  • avatar

    They also announced, almost simultaneously; that they will be using the mustang in australian supercars racing as well

  • avatar

    I still remember the day Ford went from the Thunderbird to the Taurus. I knew why, but still pissed that they were using a sedan instead of a coupe.

    And, I know these cars have not been anywhere near “stock” for many decades….

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    So someone did a poor job of photoshopping hood pins and a Monster Energy banner on a stock photo of a Mustang.

    Pretty sure the real thing won’t have a front spoiler like that… or thin treaded tires since only the [strikethru]Busch[/strikethru] Nationwide Series currently runs in the rain on certain road courses.

  • avatar

    They have been racing Mustangs and Camaros in the Infinity series for awhile now. More importantly this is another nail in the mid-size car market, because winning on Sunday didn’t help sales on Monday.

  • avatar

    In the other news, Russia promises new “Cortege” Limo ready for Putin’s inauguration. And it has Porsche V8.

  • avatar

    NASCAR has been using tube framed fabricated race cars since the late 60s, there just used to be stricter homologation rules to make sure that visually the racer more closely resembled the street version.

    You’d have to go back to the 50s to get an actual “stock” car in NASCAR. And even those were often equipped with speical dealer installed parts that required a secret handshake to get on your street car.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      Years ago I read that a certain model of an actual stock car had a rear bumper that acted like an air brake. The team that had to run that car that year removed the bumper and tack-welded it back on. I can’t remember which driver it was who did it but he suddenly got out of the throttle and let someone behind him run into his car. The bumper dutifully fell off and said driver went on to win the race. THAT was real NASCAR.

    • 0 avatar

      Would be nice though if they had to use a body in white and at least a production based engine so it has something in common with the street car.

  • avatar

    NASCAR has been dead to me since the introduction of the “playoff” format.

    • 0 avatar

      When Brian France took over he made it explicitly clear that he didn’t care in the slightest what existing fans wanted. In his mind, pitching us overboard was fine and dandy, since his exciting new ideas would bring on board a greater number of new “fans”. Those new fans have now wandered off to something else, and the older watchers aren’t coming back.

      Last time I glanced their way, I discovered that they aren’t even running full-length races any more. They gave up even pretending, and now just stop the race to bunch up the field every 30-40 laps.

      Tracks that used to be able to sell out 140k grandstands are covering up seats so the place won’t look so empty on camera…

  • avatar

    NASCAR is still alive?

  • avatar

    NASCAR lost me when they decided Ernie Elliott was building too good an engine for brother Bill.


  • avatar

    Further proof that the Fusion is dying?

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