Expect Ford to race well at Daytona, Talladega in 2018, Kurt Busch says
While Stewart-Haas Racing's switch from Chevrolet to Ford-powered cars didn't result in a Cup Series title this past season, it did make the team better in a number of areas, specifically at the restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega.
Stewart-Haas Racing wasn't the only team reaping the benefits of added funding from Ford last season. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. captured his first two career wins, both at the restrictor-plate tracks, in 2017 for Roush-Fenway Racing, and Ryan Blaney also made the playoffs with his first win.
“I think Doug Yates and his engines are the best superspeedway engines," defending Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch told reporters Tuesday. "Ford seems to have the least amount of drag which with that comes the least amount of downforce. That means we will run well at Daytona and Talladega. We swept the restrictor-plate races last year and I don’t see that changing right now."
On Tuesday, Busch's Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick echoed his thoughts about Ford's improvements from a year ago. The trio along with Clint Bowyer expect the success to continue.
“I think having a year under our belt will help things," Busch said. "That newness stage is gone and those meetings have productivity and not people stepping on each others toes. I like it. I like the way it feels. Mark Rushbrook is now the director of Ford Performance with our group and there is an enthusiasm still there. We just needed to find a little more rear aero last year. This new system where they will be scanning the cars in tech inspection should help us close the gap.”
Busch said Ford has put in the hard work this offseason, and he hopes to reward the company's innovation with wins.
"I can’t talk specifics about the engine but we have improved in the areas that Penske, Roush and us at SHR all demanded," he said. "Yates listened to us and applied that. That is exciting news. For all the 1.5 mile and short track stuff. We believe we have the elite superspeedway engines right now."