BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) — Everything looked very promising at the start of the NASCAR season for Ford and its teams, particularly the Jack Roush organization being renamed with new driver/owner Brad Keselowski.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano won the Busch Clash Show at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in January before NASCAR’s move to Daytona International Speedway and the start of the season.
It was there that Keselowski, who left Penske for an ownership stake with Roush, brought the longtime NASCAR team owner back to the victory lane for the first time since 2017. Keselowski drove a Ford renamed RFK Racing to win the Daytona 500 qualifying race. About 90 minutes later, Chris Boecher brought Roche back into the victory lane with RFK’s sweep of the two qualifying races.
Three days later, rookie Penske Austin Sindrick won the Daytona 500 to give Ford wins in his first four Cup games of the year.
With only a month left before the NASCAR qualifiers begin, Ford is bringing the rear in the manufacturer’s battle.
Three drivers combined to score four wins for Ford during the 22-point races, and Lugano won twice. His win in June in St. Louis was Ford’s last, and fourth in the Cup standings, Lugano is Ford’s highest-rated driver.
Cindric and Chase Briscoe on the Stewart-Haas Racing team grab only their second win in the blue oval as NASCAR moves into their backyard at Michigan International Speedway.
Four wins are not enough. this is unacceptable “ said Mark Rashbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports. “We need to make more gains. We need to increase the number of drivers in the standings and hopefully at least four if not more drivers will be in qualifying.
“It will definitely be tough with where we are with only four races left in the regular season. It was a struggle with the new car, the new package as we accommodated it, how to properly prepare it to go to the track and improve it.”
Chevrolet has been the dominant brand this season with 13 wins – Chase Elliott has four at the series level – and Toyota has five.
RFK OPTIMISM: Keselowski is back on his original track, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, feeling confident about RFK’s recent progress. The Rochester Hills native thinks the team is working ‘A little bit of recovery’ And he thought he and teammate Buescher were fast on the road track in Indianapolis last week.
“It seems like we’re getting better every week, and the team is starting to click and we’re starting to find some missing pieces,” Kisilovsky said. “We’re going to give it our all. I’m in this for the long haul. I want to do my best to get this company to where RFK – both cars – can win races and compete for championships.”
Keselowski has been in a deep hole since March when Team 6 took a 100-point penalty for adjusting part of a single source on the next generation. The harshest penalty was for a new NASCAR car until late last month, when NASCAR disqualified Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch after finishing 1-2 at the Pocono Raceway, then docked Michael McDowell 100 points for another breach in the next generation.
The penalties were a relief to Kisilovsky as they showed him that NASCAR treats all teams equally. But he wants more enforcement.
“The reality is that the garage is going through a reset in terms of sort of letting go of games, and that’s a good thing for us as a sport,” he said. Kisilovsky said. “Personally, I think the sport needs more penalties, and NASCAR needs to distribute it like candy now to take over the garage.
“We’ve been playing a lot of games for many years, and the games have to stop. The games cost a lot of money. The easiest way to stop NASCAR for those expenses is to stop the games.”
This message was delivered all over the RFK store after Keselowski was punished.
We went through our whole company and said ‘No more games.’ Nothing happens in these cars, period.” He said. “There are a lot of people within our company that didn’t like it, but the fact is that NASCAR is setting precedents that need to be set, which we support, and which are important to the future and viability of our industry.”
And while he’s not expecting great things for RFK on Sunday, as the next generation of Michigan starts with a new tire compound from supplier Goodyear, Keselowski won’t stop pushing.
He really wants to win on his home circuit, which is 0 for 24, and he has character streaks on the streak as well. Keselowski has won at least one race a year every season since 2011, but has yet to win, and needs a victory to extend his playoff streak to nine consecutive years.
He’s not sure what to expect from FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday at MIS.
“I don’t know what to tell you to expect with the new car, the different tires, and a little bit of training,” Kisilovsky said. It can be a complete and utter chaos. It could be the best race ever. It could be somewhere in between. I don’t know. I think in some ways that’s part of the fun of the next generation being the complete uncertainty every week, what’s going to happen.”
Odds and ending: Ryan Blaney is second in the points standings and is the defending winner in Michigan. But he doesn’t have a points-paying win after this season and needs one to secure his place in the playoffs. …the victory would make Blaney the 11th driver to win back-to-back races in Michigan. …Richard Childress Racing heads into action with two wins in five races from Tyler Riddick, including this past weekend in Indianapolis. RCR will present a car on Sunday for Austin Hill to compete in the World Cup for the first time. Hill will be doing double duty and also running on Saturday in the Xfinity Series. …. Chase Elliott is an early favorite, according to FanDuel.