With Clint Bowyer winning Sunday’s Firekeepers Casino 400, Kevin Harvick running second and Kurt Busch coming home third, Stewart-Haas Racing swept the top three positions in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race for the first time in company history.
Stewart-Haas, however, didn’t have a monopoly on Ford performance in Sunday’s event at Michigan International Speedway. Ford drivers took seven of the top eight finishing positions with Paul Menard claiming a season-best fifth and Team Penske drivers Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney running sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
With its cars powered by Roush Yates engines, Ford claimed the Michigan Heritage trophy that goes to the winning manufacturer.
“We always want to win every race, so that’s always the goal,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “Certainly, this I think would exceed what our expectation is.
“We’re working on all fronts of what it takes to be successful in racing with our teams and giving them the right tools, making sure they have the best engines, aero tools, CFD (computational fluid dynamics) tools to optimize what they’ve got. We’re just going to keep pushing as hard as we have been and not giving up.”
Michigan, according to Rushbrook, proved an ideal place to showcase the strides Ford has been making in NASCAR’s premier series.
“To be successful with this track, you’ve got to have strong engines, with the RPM range that they’re running—high RPMs, having the power up there,” he said. “But (you also have) to be able to get out of the corners with the speed differential in the corners, and aerodynamics.
“That’s what we’ve been working with the teams on. I think it’s that combination. If you’re not strong in all areas, you’re not going to do well at a track like this.”
Clearly, the Fords were hitting on all cylinders on Sunday.