By Tim Packman
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – When the checkered flag waved over the 64th running of the prestigious Daytona 500, there were multiple Blue Oval Boys a top the scoring pylon.
Austin Cindric earned his first Cup Series victory in fine fashion capturing the Harley J. Earl Trophy for Team Penske in the No. 2 Ford. Following behind in third was Chase Briscoe in the No. 14 Ford from Stewart-Haas Racing, fourth was Ryan Blaney in the No. 12 Ford from Penske and rounding out the top-five was Aric Almirola in the No. 10 Ford from SHR.
Fords also captured the seventh, eighth and ninth positions making it seven of the top-10 finishers at Daytona International Speedway from the Ford camp.
“This has been such a great week with the Duels and the strong Ford Performance and everybody working together to get the two wins Thursday night in the Duels and then the Truck win on Friday night,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director for Ford Performance. “And now, to come here for the Daytona 500 and all of our Ford teams and drivers are working together.
“To have so many cars in the top-10 and Austin Cindric with the win it is just fantastic for all of Ford Motor Company. It is a dream. After over two years of working on the Next Gen car, to have that car come here, for the sport, to debut and be so great and have good racing and the cars look great.
“Then to have that Ford teamwork, working together, which is everything we do with engineering through the week and strategy through the weekend and it all played out on track today, just the way we wanted.”
Almirola was competing in his final The Great American Race after announcing a few months ago this would be his last season driving. Although he didn’t win, his appreciation for Ford and what was accomplished during Speedweek didn’t go unnoticed.
“I’m proud of our team,” Almirola said after his top-five finish. “Thanks to Smithfield and everybody involved – Mobil 1 and Ford. It’s cool to get Ford in Victory Lane.
“We swept the week, so I’m proud of everybody and now we go to California and start the season.”
Here are some fast facts about all Ford has accomplished in the 500, and in NASCAR competition, as well.
*Ford’s win in the Daytona 500 is its second straight and fourth in the last eight years.
* Ford has won the Daytona 500 17 times overall, doing so with 14 different drivers
* This was Team Penske’s 85th NCS wins with Ford, 58 have come since rejoining the manufacturer in 2013.
* The Daytona 500 win was Ford’s 712th all-time victory in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
That latest win came with Cup Series rookie, who is now locked into the playoffs to earn a championship, in the 23-year-old Cindric. And, it didn’t go unnoticed in regards to how many fans turned out in Daytona to see the first Next Gen points race.
“I knew I had the car to do it, but there’s so many things that have to play out correctly and putting yourself in position,” Cindric said. “Sometimes, you have to force people to help you and I definitely didn’t expect any help throughout the day. I did get some from the Fords, and I think Ford has done an incredible job with this new car and it’s obviously shown the first couple races
“They did a remarkable job working together and it paid off. There’s a lot of momentum in NASCAR right now and I look forward to being a part of that growth. I’m just proud to be able to hold off those runs at the end of the race and it means the world to me to be able to sit here and say I’m a Daytona 500 winner.
“Do you know what makes it all better? A packed house. A packed house at the Daytona 500.”