NASCAR Cup
NASCAR Cup
21 Feb
-
23 Feb
Event finished
28 Feb
-
01 Mar
Event finished
06 Mar
-
08 Mar
Event finished
R
Martinsville
07 May
-
09 May
Next event in
28 days
R
All-Star
15 May
-
16 May
Next event in
36 days
R
Charlotte
22 May
-
24 May
Next event in
43 days
R
29 May
-
31 May
Next event in
50 days
R
Michigan
05 Jun
-
07 Jun
Next event in
57 days
R
12 Jun
-
14 Jun
Next event in
64 days
R
Chicagoland
19 Jun
-
21 Jun
Next event in
71 days
R
26 Jun
-
28 Jun
Next event in
78 days
R
Indianapolis
03 Jul
-
05 Jul
Next event in
85 days
R
Kentucky
09 Jul
-
11 Jul
Next event in
91 days
R
17 Jul
-
19 Jul
Next event in
99 days
R
Michigan II
07 Aug
-
09 Aug
Next event in
120 days
R
Watkins Glen
14 Aug
-
16 Aug
Next event in
127 days
R
Dover II
21 Aug
-
23 Aug
Next event in
134 days
R
Daytona II
27 Aug
-
29 Aug
Next event in
140 days
R
Darlington
04 Sep
-
06 Sep
Next event in
148 days
R
Richmond II
10 Sep
-
12 Sep
Next event in
154 days
R
Bristol II
17 Sep
-
19 Sep
Next event in
161 days
R
Las Vegas II
25 Sep
-
27 Sep
Next event in
169 days
R
Talladega II
02 Oct
-
04 Oct
Next event in
176 days
R
Charlotte II
09 Oct
-
11 Oct
Next event in
183 days
R
Kansas II
16 Oct
-
18 Oct
Next event in
190 days
R
Texas II
23 Oct
-
25 Oct
Next event in
197 days
R
Martinsville II
30 Oct
-
01 Nov
Next event in
204 days
R
Phoenix II
06 Nov
-
08 Nov
Next event in
211 days

Mark Rushbrook talks taking the reins at Ford Performance

shares
comments
Mark Rushbrook talks taking the reins at Ford Performance
By:
Nov 2, 2017, 3:48 PM

Perched on the backstretch with a view of Martinsville Speedway, Mark Rushbrook, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports was settling into his new role.

Mark Rusbrook, Global Director at Ford Performance
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford, David Ragan, Front Row Motorsports Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Landon Cassill, Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford and Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Landon Cassill, Ford
Aric Almirola, Richard Petty Motorsports Ford and Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Fusion pit stop
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Mark Rushbrook and Todd Gordon
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford, Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Chase Briscoe, Brad Keselowski Racing Ford
Chase Briscoe, Brad Keselowski Racing Ford wins the pole
Chase Briscoe, Brad Keselowski Racing Ford

Although Rushbrook won’t officially take over as Ford’s racing boss until December 1, as Motorsports Engineering Manager for the last four years, he’s well prepared for this latest challenge. 

Under the NASCAR umbrella, Rushbrook will oversee the efforts of three flagship Monster Energy Cup efforts--along with their technical alliances--as well as the reorganization of its Xfinity Series program. 

We’re working to keep all three of those teams strong and working together where it makes sense and working independently so they can race against each other. 

Mark Rushbrook

When you enter the Ford Performance motor coach, a poster of three iconic vehicles—all in a vibrant cobalt blue—catches the eye. There’s the 2017 GT, which won the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours before its latest release. There’s the Ford F-150 pickup truck, the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. since 1981. And then there’s the Ford Mustang, America’s quintessential pony car and the most popular sports car around the world. 

Future of NASCAR Ford program

Ford has campaigned the Mustang in NASCAR’s Xfinity ranks, but there has been overwhelming support to follow Chevrolet’s lead with the Camaro and bring it to the Monster Energy Cup Series.

“Our approach to motorsports is we always have a five-year cycle plan in terms of where we’re competing,” Rushbrook said. “So, just like our cycle plan across all of our different motorsports, it’s the same within NASCAR. We’re always looking at what the actions are that we need to take to be the most competitive in terms of delivering the wins and championships—as well as relevance to our street car and what we want to accomplish on a marketing perspective.

“I think all I can say at this point is that we’re studying and taking actions to meet the goals that we have.”

Does that mean nothing in the way of a proposal featuring the Mustang for the 2019 or 2020 Cup competition has been submitted to NASCAR?

After deafening silence, Rushbrook smiles and adds, “Stay tuned. We’re always working on projects like that to be ready to capitalize when the time is right. Again, we want to win races and championships.” 

Rushbrook has the perfect demeanor and background for the job. The 50-year-old Ligonier, Pennsylvania, native received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Penn State before moving to the University of Michigan, where he received his Masters in Mechanical Engineering  and Business. Rushbrook then signed on with Ford Motor Company in 1999 and has remained there ever since. 

Under the tutelage of Dave Pericak, the current Director of Ford Performance, Rushbrook developed solid relationships with NASCAR’s Blue Oval teams. 

“They have only improved across all of our teams—the existing teams that we had at the time with Team Penske, Roush Fenway, RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports), Front Row and then introducing Stewart-Haas into our mix was a big move for us,” Rushbrook said. “The Wood Brothers, and they’re relationship with Penske. They have a proud heritage but their ability to learn from Penske and take that to the track was a great extension of that.  

“I think we have really good relationships them and then as with NASCAR themselves. We’ll continue to grow and improve those relationships.”

Chevrolet has dominated the manufacturer’s championship with 13 trophies in the last 14 years. In 2016, Toyota captured its first manufacturer’s title and shows no signs of slowing down. After 14 seasons without a manufacturer’s title, last season Ford recruited Stewart-Haas Racing, which offered four additional opportunities to win races, particularly with the acquisition of 2014 champion Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, the last driver to win a Cup championship for Ford in 2004.

SHR's transition

But it has been a tough transition from Chevy to Ford for SHR. Although the organization started the season with Busch winning the Daytona 500 and Harvick showing speed throughout the year, the No. 4 team’s only visit to Victory Lane was Sonoma in June. While Rushbrook anticipated growing pains, he’s pleased to see Harvick’s performance picking up in the playoffs.

“I think the transitions are always hard,” Rushbrook said. “It’s a monumental transition that Stewart-Haas took on to make this change with us and then worked around the clock non-stop from the end of Homestead last year to the start of the season this year. I would say, with Kurt’s (Busch) win and then at Atlanta the next week, Kevin (Harvick) dominated that race. But unfortunately had a speeding penalty that took that away from him.

“They’ve had fast cars all year. They haven’t always been able to finish off the results, but they have recently. If you look at the metrics from Kansas and the speed in the 4 car, it’s definitely there. They’re performing at a high level, and I’m looking to advancing in the playoffs with Kevin.” 

Overall, Rushbrook is currently responsible for 12 Cup teams. Next season, Team Penske will add a third car for Ryan Blaney and continue its relationship with Wood Brothers Racing as Paul Menard returns to Ford. RPM, which has been under the Ford banner since 2010, has yet to announce a manufacturer alliance for 2018. 

Developing younger talent

At 41, Harvick is the veteran driver in the Ford stable. As a response to Toyota’s success driver development campaign, Ford has enlisted 22-year-old Chase Briscoe. The Camping World Truck Series driver successfully adapted from dirt to win the 2016 ARCA championship in his rookie season before graduating to NASCAR. 

Briscoe, who currently drives for Brad Keselowski Racing, was fifth in the standings entering Talladega two weeks ago before a faulty valve cover derailed his chance of advancing to the Round of 6 in the series Playoff. Still, in 20 starts, Briscoe has posted three poles, has been running at the finish of every race and earned an average result of 9.3.

“We thought starting a driver development program was a strategic move to feed drivers into the Xfinity and Cup level,” Rushbrook said. “We started it with Chase. He's our only Ford driver, but we plan on continuing his development and expand the program when it makes sense.”

Rushbrook is also looking at an alignment between the Xfinity Series teams to enhance the competitiveness and efficiencies in the program. 

But for a company that after 120 years of competition rebranded itself as Ford Performance, there’s only one objective for Rushbrook.

“We want to win races, and we want to win driver and manufacturer championships,” Rushbrook said. “Our strategy has been three strong teams. We’re working to keep all three of those teams strong and working together where it makes sense and working independently so they can race against each other. 

“We’re trying to find that balance of sharing across those teams and maintaining independence and competitiveness among those teams.”

Next article
NASCAR Scanner sounds: "Yep, he definitely wrecked me"

Previous article

NASCAR Scanner sounds: "Yep, he definitely wrecked me"

Next article

Hamlin: "There was absolutely no intent" to wreck Elliott

Hamlin: "There was absolutely no intent" to wreck Elliott
Load comments