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Ford’s Winless Run Rings Alarms Across the Board With Ryan Blaney as Final Hope

Published 04/12/2024, 4:22 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

Of the three OEMs presently competing in NASCAR, two are battling neck-to-neck for the lead. Chevrolet dominates with five wins, and Toyota trails close behind with three. However, the third party in the group is feeling left out so far. Victory confetti is yet to shower upon the sleek Ford Mustang body this season.

The Dark Horse was unveiled as a street car in 2022 and forayed into NASCAR this year. Yet despite all the hype created around its appearance, only Ryan Blaney spearheads the Ford troops. Other drivers are struggling to keep up, which should worry the manufacturer, as experts say.

How long can Ryan Blaney be Ford’s lone wolf?

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Both Ford and Toyota revamped their car bodies, yet good old Chevrolet dominated through the first three races. Toyota caught up soon, with Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin fetching wins. However, Ford drivers are in a slump. Team Penske driver Joey Logano and RFK driver Chris Buescher are underperforming.

Although Ford leader Ryan Blaney is not too scared, NASCAR experts are worried. SiriusXM’s Davey Segal let out his apprehensions about the other drivers. “Joey Logano, I think he’s just sneaked his way into the top 15. But for a while there, the 22 team couldn’t seem to get out of their own way and…They were outside of the top 20 in points, a two-time champion…Chris Buescher has made his way into the top 15 as well, but you only got one Ford in the top 10 of the points standings”.

Fox Sports’ Josh Sims pertinently observed: “Ford had looked at this weekend at Texas as kind of being the breaking point as to when they start to panic…Because at this point you will have gone to a couple mile and a half…you’ve gone to the road course, superspeedway, the short tracks. So you’ve checked off a number of boxes, and if you haven’t started to improve by this point, then we gotta figure something out.”

In the end, both agree that Ryan Blaney is the only one who can revive Ford. Segal said: “Blaney being the only one in the top ten and Joey finally waking up…I’m surprised that Buescher hasn’t made more of an impact so far.” Similarly, Sims quipped: “You got Ryan Blaney sitting 5th in points, he’s the defending champion. He’s kind of been carrying the pale, so to speak”.

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Yet it is a proven fact that Ford takes time to pick up momentum in a Cup season, as was evident last year.

Ford’s glory might be delayed

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In 2023, Ford cars swerved into Victory Lane eight times among the 35 points-paying races of the Cup Series. But one factor that echoes this year as well was the timing of the wins. In last year’s first 21 races, Ford drivers could fetch trophies only twice. Then they ended the season with a bang as Ryan Blaney brought home a Championship title.

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Hence, all hope may not be lost, as Ford does take time to catch up. RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher emphasized as much: “If you would have looked at us last year, you would have never thought a Ford was going to win a championship and then it did. Hopefully, when it matters, Ford is going to be strong.”

And yes, we are also hoping to see a Dark Horse ride to glory in the not-so-distant future.

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Written by:

Sumedha Mukherjee

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Sumedha Mukherjee is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports who is known for her in-depth track analysis as well as her lifestyle coverage of Cup drivers like Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Inspired by the Kiwi's journey so far, Sumedha has also written pieces on Shane Van Gisbergen, predicting how the Supercars Champion would do in the new and unfamiliar American setting. Pairing her research skills with her vast experience as a writer, Sumedha creates stories her readers can easily get lost in.
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Edited by:

Shreya Singh