It’s probably (definitively) no coincidence that Ford has chosen to announce its 2019 Mustang NASCAR racer in the week of its 10 millionth Mustang celebrations. Set to take to the track next year in the top tier NASCAR Cup series, the new competition model will replace the existing Ford Fusion racer, which bows out after 12 years on track.
Regulations dictate that the new ‘stang will be a silhouette racer like its rivals from Chevrolet and Toyota, so beneath the new skin will be the same spaceframe chassis as the ZL1 and Camry it’ll compete against in 2019. Ford’s engine will also be built in 5.8-litre pushrod V8 form, as per series regulations, and produce close to 900 American horses.
Ford would have you believe that the ‘stang’s NASCAR Cup series debut is one designed purely to boost the pony car’s profile. And while that may be accurate, there’s no doubt that a key motivation for the switch will have also been the deletion of the road going Fusion – America’s version of the Mondeo – from Ford’s US line-up in 2020.
Thankfully the 'stang is facing no such fate, so when Ford's next racer takes to the track in 2019, it’ll be the first to wear a Mustang face. Ford, a brand that’s raced in NACAR's top series without pause since 1978, has never fielded a ‘stang in the top class. (Although it has raced one in the second tier category with plenty of success, winning both driver’s and manufacturers titles.)
Ford Performance Motorsports boss Mark Rushbrook is aiming high with his new car, stating that he “can’t wait to see it winning races in the NASCAR Cup Series next year”. Ford could stand its best chance for a long time in 2019 because the championship will introduce a raft of changes, including a new aero package, that should make for closer races.
Let's hope to see Mustangs in the thick of it from the off. Yee-haw!