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NASCAR champions like the change to Mustang

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 3, 2019 at 2:45 PM

Brad Keselowski’s words before the start of the NASCAR season seem prophetic now.

While the Ford Fusion ended its Monster Energy Cup Series run by winning 19 of 36 races in 2018, Keselowski couldn’t wait until the sporty Mustang hit the track.

“I’m confident the Mustang is a significant upgrade over the Fusion,” the 2012 NASCAR champion said. “We will see a performance gain from it. I don’t see the Mustang taking even an inch backwards.”

It’s been a fun ride so far for Keselowski and his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano, who have won three of the first seven races this season, heading into Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Keselowski drove his No. 2 Mustang to victory at the series’ last short-track race at Martinsville, Virginia.

Logano, driver of the No 22 Ford, definitely has a fondness towards the Fusion, the car he drove to last season’s championship, but he’s also been impressed with how fast the Mustang was up to speed, something he credits to both the teams and manufacturer.

“On the race track, I expected a little bit of a learning curve, but Ford and the race teams did a great job collaborating and building a fast car,” Logano said. “It appears to be good everywhere and I’m proud to be driving one.”

Kevin Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR champion, hasn’t had as fast a start this season in the new car, but he’s still a big fan of the Mustang. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford gives credit to Ford’s engineers for coming up with a car that is sleek and aerodynamic.

“The Penske guys have done a great job with winning races,” said Harvick, currently third in the NASCAR point standings. “Our group has been off a little bit, but we’ve managed to race well and to get some good finishes out of the car. I think everyone at Ford has done a good job in designing a car that really wasn’t designed for the rules package that we have.”

Harvick believes the car will have speed whether it’s at Bristol where Ford has 37 wins, including last August with Kurt Busch, as it has proven at the larger tracks and even at the road courses.

“They did a great job of making a versatile car that you need in today’s form of NASCAR with the downforce settings, drag settings and all that going on with the four or five different styles of car you have to build,” Harvick said. “Even though the rules are the same, there are different things you have to do to the cars to make them go fast. This would be a good race car with any package they have.”

The Mustang is no stranger to success at Bristol with Ryan Blaney and Logano posting back-to-back Xfinity Series wins in 2014-15.

RIDES ON THE STREET

While the NASCAR drivers love getting behind the wheel of the Mustang on the track and on the street, both Harvick and Logano have opted for other Ford vehicles as their personal rides.

“For me, I have two kids, so we have baseball games, basketball games, so I drive around in an Expedition,” he said. “I don’t really drive around in sports cars. I’m more of the type where I have to get from point A to point B, so I’m pretty boring.”

Logano also talked about being a family man and joked that his Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric isn’t married with kids, so he still gets to drive the Mustang. Logano’s vehicle of choice is his Ford truck.

“I drive a Raptor where there is a little more room for the little man in the back,” Logano said. “I love it because it’s tough. I take mine off-roading, beat it up, jump it and it’s still in one piece which is pretty amazing. I wasn’t for sure when I heard about a six-cylinder in a truck, but man, it’s a great motor and with the 10-speed transmission, it’s a beast. It’s pretty fun to take around.”

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