Ford Performance NASCAR: Ford Looks To Continue Best Start Since…

by Official Release On Mon, May. 21, 2018

FORD PERFORMANCE NASCAR: CHARLOTTE COCA-COLA 600 ADVANCE

The longest race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is scheduled for Sunday when the annual Coca-Cola 600 takes place at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Ford, which has won 7 of the first 12 races this season, is off to its best start in 20 years and will be looking for its first victory in the 600 since Mark Martin in 2002.

THE BEST START SINCE…

Ford is off to its best start since 1997 after winning 7 of the first 12 points races of the season. Kevin Harvick is currently on his second multi-race win streak of the season and has five victories overall while Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano have one each. Here’s a look at some of Ford’s other strong season starts.

1997 (19 overall wins in 32 races)

The last time Ford won 7 of the first 12 events was in 1997 and it happened thanks in large part to a four-race winning streak at Richmond, Atlanta, Darlington and Texas. Ford went on to win 19 races that season as Dale Jarrett led the way with seven. Mark Martin had four and Jeff Burton three.

1994 (20 overall wins in 31 races)

A seven-race winning streak three months into the 1994 season propelled Ford to one of its best first halves in NASCAR history. The result was 12 wins in the first 18 races by five different drivers. Rusty Wallace eventually won eight times while Ernie Irvan and Geoffrey Bodine had three each.

1992 (16 overall wins in 29 races)

When Davey Allison won the season-opening Daytona 500 in 1992 it ignited the best start in Ford’s NASCAR history. The Blue Oval won the first nine races and never looked back as Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki joined Allison in a three-way championship battle that eventually went Kulwicki’s way on the final day at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

SEVEN FORD DRIVERS IN TOP-10

Ford drivers are dominating the current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings with seven drivers in the Top 10. Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer are second through sixth, respectively, while Ryan Blaney (9th) and Aric Almirola (10th) round out the Ford contingent. In addition, Ford leads the manufacturer standings by 12 points.

COCA-COLA 600 HIGHLIGHTS

HOLMAN-MOODY CONQUER THE WORLD

Ford won the Coca-Cola 600 came on May 27, 1962 when the race was still referred to as the World 600. This marked the third running of NASCAR’s longest race and in the end it was Nelson Stacy, behind the wheel of a 1962 Holman-Moody Ford, that ended up in victory lane. Stacy passed David Pearson, who developed engine trouble with eight laps to go, and went on to beat Joe Weatherly to the finish line by 32 seconds in posting the third of his four career victories. Fellow Holman-Moody teammate Fred Lorenzen finished third. The win was Stacy’s second straight after he took the checkered flag two weeks earlier in Darlington.

THREE JEWELS FOR DJ

Dale Jarrett won his share of major races during a sterling career in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but no season may have been better than his first year driving at Robert Yates Racing in 1996. After winning the season-opening Daytona 500, his second of three triumphs in that event, Jarrett came to Charlotte in search of winning the Coca-Cola 600 for the first time. Jarrett, who qualified 15th, wasn’t much of a factor when the race started, but when the sun went down his No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford Taurus came to life. He took the lead for the first time on lap 175 and ended up leading 199 of the final 226 laps for RYR to win going away. Jarrett eventually went on to win the Brickyard 400 a couple of months later to give him three of the sports biggest victories in one season.

FIRST-TIME WINNER

Matt Kenseth joined an exclusive club when he made the Coca-Cola 600 his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in 2000. Kenseth, who was in his rookie season driving for car owner Jack Roush, joined David Pearson (1961), Jeff Gordon (1994) and Bobby Labonte (1995) as drivers who made the marquee event their first series win. Kenseth, who nearly won in Fontana (CA) a couple weeks earlier before settling for third, left no doubt on this night as he led the final 26 laps and beat Bobby Labonte to the finish line by half-a-second.

FOUR STRAIGHT

The last time Ford took the checkered flag in the Coca-Cola 600 was in 2002 when Mark Martin won the event and extended Jack Roush’s win streak in the event to four. Jeff Burton started the streak by winning in 1999 and then Matt Kenseth posted the first win of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career as a rookie the following season in 2000. Burton followed that with his second win in three years before Martin, who led the final 40 laps, was able to keep that streak going in 2002. The win was Martin’s 33rd career triumph, but it wasn’t easy as he had to hold off Kenseth down the stretch. The race ended with Ford sweeping the top four positions as Martin and Kenseth were followed across the finish line by Ricky Craven and Ricky Rudd, who was making his record 656th consecutive series start.

FORD PERFORMANCE COCA-COLA 600 WINNERS
1962 – Nelson Stacy
1963 – Fred Lorenzen
1965 – Fred Lorenzen
1970 – Donnie Allison
1982 – Neil Bonnett
1987 – Kyle Petty
1991 – Davey Allison
1996 – Dale Jarrett
1999 – Jeff Burton
2000 – Matt Kenseth
2001 – Jeff Burton
2002 – Mark Martin

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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