Is Penske the shot in the arm that Ford needs?

[media-credit id=62 align=”alignright” width=”226″][/media-credit]Now that the never-ending banquet is over, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is finally in the books. The champion has been crowned and it’s only 78 days until the qualifying for the Daytona 500. That’s about two and a half months. What we were treated with tonight was an out of place Howie Mandel and plenty of fluff leading up to what turned out to be tremendous speeches by car owner Roger Penske and Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski. Yes, Clint Bowyer was funny and Kasey Kahne was horribly stiff, but the professionalism of The Captain and Brad was the lasting impression left on this viewer.

All of a sudden, it hit me like a sucker punch out of the blue. Roger Penske and Brad Keselowski is just what Ford needs. Jack Roush has pretty much controlled Ford’s NASCAR program, whether by necessity or just because there was no one else there. Tonight, The Captain showed what has been missing from the Ford’s program—another perspective.

Roush controls his three teams and the two Richard Petty Motorsports teams and the Wood Brothers team. He also has his hand in at least chassis and engines for Front Row Motorsports and others. The results haven’t been stellar, though not horrible. While Hendrick Motorsports has been winning everywhere and winning the last six championships (if you count Tony Stewart’s title last year), Roush Fenway has been a distant second. A spark was needed, and maybe the big shots at Ford Racing saw that. I have no idea if this was the case, but if not, it was a lucky stroke. It just might be what is needed to jump start the blue oval next year.

Maybe it’s just the excitement of seeing a new champion crowned, but it seemed like a new day dawned. With Penske on board, Ford finally has a team that isn’t just a clone of what they already have. The competition within the brand just might spur on the seven teams to become more competitive. Seeing Roger Penske on the stage was a shot in the arm for the whole series. For too long, this series has been owned by Hendrick, and specifically the No.48 team, with the other Chevrolets owned by HMS close behind. Joe Gibbs Racing has made inroads, as has Michael Waltrip Racing this year. With Keselowski and Penske, the new face, always exciting to fans, is here.

If will be tough next year. A new manufacturer is always snuffed off as not a problem, but it always is. I remember when Harry Rainer, owner of probably the fastest team of its time, switched to Ford in 1985. The “can’t miss” team took a half season before they could be competitive for a whole race, so asking for another championship is probably a tall order. It is more competition for those who have dominated for so long, and that’s a good thing for the sport. New ideas are always welcomed for NASCAR and competition as a whole. At least I hope so.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Fleshman
Ron Fleshman has followed NASCAR racing since attending his first race at Martinsville Speedway in 1964. He joined the Motor Sports Forum on the CompuServe network in the 1980s and became a reporter for Racing Information Systems in 1994. In 2002, he was named NASCAR Editor for RIS when it appeared on the World Wide Web as He can now be found at Ron is a member of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. You can find Ron following and reporting on the top three NASCAR divisions each week. As a lifer in his support of racing, he attends and reports on nearly 30 events a year and as a member of the motor sports media, his passion has been racing for 47 years. He lives with his family in rural West Virginia and works in the insurance industry when not on the road to another track.

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  1. Yes Roush is supplying the engines and Roush Yates engines won six races last year. Super speedway, short track and intermediate tracks.
    Penske racing sets up their cars different than Roush and was successful with Dodge engines so it would make sense that Ford engines can win in Penske cars.
    I think Roger is a better manager than Jack and can win just as many or more races running Fords as he did with Dodge.
    I think Jack is a great engineer but not so great a manager.
    Coach Gibbs is a great manager and has no automotive knowledge and look how successful he is.


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