DEARBORN, Mich. — It took Joe Gibbs Racing about three months into the 2017 season to begin returning to its 2016 type following the introduction of a brand new Camry physique type.
Some would say six months into the 2018 season, the Chevrolet groups are nonetheless looking for their manner after the swap from the Chevrolet SS to the Camaro.
So when Ford opens 2019 with a swap from the Fusion to the Mustang, the Ford groups struggling would not rank among the many surprises.
Whereas acknowledging that truth because the 2019 Mustang was unveiled at Ford’s headquarters Thursday, the Ford drivers aren’t resigned to the truth that they may take a step again.
They very properly may. However two issues may impression their efficiency: If NASCAR goes to its radical drafting bundle for a dozen or so races subsequent 12 months, there’s probably no clue how the automobile would carry out; and the Stewart-Haas groups, on the very least, are used to navigating a current change.
And there may very well be another reason for optimism: The groups, like all aggressive group, assume they will maximize the brand new automobile’s potential higher and extra rapidly than the others.
“I do not assume both of these two circumstances [with Toyota and Chevrolet] has been the automobile,” Workforce Penske driver Brad Keselowski mentioned. “I believe there was different points. That is the factor about this sport, is that the automobile is tremendous vital however that is not the one piece.
“You might have the weekend execution, you will have the driving force piece, the pit-crew piece. All these issues have to come back collectively. … I do not assume in these two situations it was the automobile that held them again, and I do not assume it would for us, both.”
The Camaro might need had somewhat harder transition contemplating NASCAR went from a template-based inspection system of automobile our bodies to a projector-and-camera scanning system that probably stored any publicity of grey areas within the previous system from being capitalized on by the Chevrolet groups.
SHR co-owner Tony Stewart mentioned the best way his group dealt with the transfer from Chevrolet to Ford previous to 2017 offers him confidence.
“You take a look at what we did final 12 months, we switched producers — that is a fairly large adjustment, too,” Stewart mentioned. “If there is a group that I really feel most snug with, it is our group, on this situation, to undergo that.”
Kevin Harvick, who has six wins with the Fusion this 12 months, echoed these remarks. He mentioned “it will be silly of me to face right here and say I am 100 % sure it’ll go properly,” however he has confidence contemplating his group’s 2017 efficiency.
“The strongest a part of our firm is the aero aspect of issues,” Harvick mentioned. “Once you take a look at every little thing that is happening, there may be going to be some challenges alongside the best way however … switching from one producer to a different is far more difficult.”
And what concerning the potential of a drafting bundle for subsequent 12 months, the one which groups used within the All-Star Race however then NASCAR delay utilizing in factors occasions till 2019?
“I’ve simply determined to step out of that dialog,” mentioned Harvick, an ardent opponent of NASCAR’s utilizing that bundle. “I get annoyed with numerous these issues.”
Keselowski mentioned the drafting bundle may very well be utilized in anyplace from one race to 20 races. NASCAR has despatched the proposed guidelines to group homeowners, who’ve till Oct. 1 to barter with the sanctioning physique on the 2019 guidelines.
“If we find yourself going up with the All-Star bundle, it is an actual dartboard as a result of not one of the automobiles have been examined in that configuration,” Keselowski mentioned.
“I do not know how we’ll be aggressive. If we keep on with the bundle much like what we have now proper now, I anticipate this race automobile to be extraordinarily aggressive and a fairly large development from the place we’re at proper now.”
NASCAR’s procedures for a brand new physique type have required a wind tunnel check with representatives of the opposite producers in attendance. They have to meet NASCAR’s parameters for downforce to verify there may be parity.
Keselowski mentioned the drivers had a few periods with the designers they usually listened to their enter. Harvick mentioned the drivers talked with the engineers concerning the steadiness of the automobile.
“After the conversations of stuff you’d like in a brand new automobile from a steadiness standpoint and entrance and rear bumpers and issues like that, that is just about the tip of the driving force [input],” Harvick mentioned.
“It is an engineering undertaking after that, very similar to every little thing else that we do. … The motive force is a small piece of designing one thing like that. The motive force will likely be part of what setups work and the traits of the automobile and exploiting these varieties of issues after we get them on the monitor.”