After thirteen seasons, the Fusion will no longer be the Ford Motor Company’s vehicle of choice in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. On Tuesday, the manufacturer announced the Mustang will replace the Fusion starting in 2019.
“Pony up! The Ford Mustang, the world’s best-selling coupe for the third year straight, joins the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series in 2019,” Ford Performance tweeted.
“We’re combining America’s favorite sports car with America’s top stock car racing series,” Ford Performance Motorsports Global Director Mark Rushbrook stated. “Mustang always has been about affordable performance, which can be traced to innovations we’ve made competing in racing, like NASCAR. Mustang is a perfect fit for our racing heritage today and tomorrow.”
Since 2011, the Mustang has been competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, also replacing the Fusion. The Mustang got off to a strong start in NASCAR’s second series when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the 2011 and 2012 titles. Chris Buescher scored Ford’s latest Driver’s Championship in 2015. Currently fielded by JGL Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste, and Team Penske, Ford currently leads the Xfinity Series Manufacturer’s Championship with four wins. In its eight years, the car has won 76 races. Prior to the Mustang’s introduction, Ford fielded the Fairmont, Thunderbird, Taurus, and Fusion.
The Ford Motor Company has been in NASCAR since the sport’s first race in 1949 at Charlotte Speedway; twelve drivers drove Fords, including initial race winner Glenn Dunnaway. Although Dunnaway was eventually disqualified for spread rear springs; new winner Jim Roper drove a Lincoln (a Ford brand). Ford itself would not win its first race until the 1950 Dayton Speedway event, in which Jimmy Florian piloted a 1950 Ford to Victory Lane. Although the early 1950s was dominated by Hudson, Plymouth, and Oldsmobile, Ford began its charge in 1956 as it won the Manufacturer’s Championship, the first of fifteen in NASCAR’s premier series for the company.
In the Cup Series’ modern era (starting in 1972), the Mustang will be Ford’s fourth car after the Thunderbird, Taurus, and Fusion. With the Thunderbird, Ford broke a twenty-year dry spell without a Driver’s Championship when Bill Elliott won the 1988 title. Four years later, Ford won both Driver’s and Manufacturer’s titles as Alan Kulwicki piloted the #7 “Underbird” car to his only championship. The Taurus replaced the Thunderbird in 1998, and went on to win 100 races. From 1993 to 2003, Ford won five Manufacturer’s (1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002) and two Driver’s Championships (Dale Jarrett in 1999 and Matt Kenseth in 2003). Kurt Busch won Ford’s most recent Driver’s title in 2004.
The Fusion became Ford’s new car in 2006, winning 94 races so far. For the 2018 season, six Cup teams field the Fusion: Roush, Stewart-Haas, Penske, Front Row Motorsports, Go Fas Racing, and Wood Brothers Racing. After eight races in 2018, Ford is second in the Manufacturer’s Championship behind Toyota. Stewart-Haas team-mates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer have recorded Ford’s four wins.
With the switch to the Mustang, Ford joins Chevrolet in transitioning its muscle cars to the Cup Series. After five seasons with the SS (which was discontinued in 2017), Chevy moved to the Camaro ZL1 for 2018.