By: Ashley McCubbin
When Ford Performance decided to restart their development program, a lot of eyes fell on the manufacture to see who would be their next great star, joining the likes of Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski in the NASCAR Cup Series. Thus far, the program seems to be off to a success.
Chase Briscoe graduates into the NASCAR Cup Series this season with Stewart-Haas Racing, having spent his entire time in NASCAR’s National Level series with the blue oval badge on the nose. Success has been experienced at each level, with a pair of wins in NASCAR Camping world Truck Series competition, before winning eight races last year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
To see his success and growth is something Ford Performance’s Global Director Mark Rushbrook calls fantastic.
“To see him grow as a driver, racing our Mustang GT4 in IMSA and in NASCAR Trucks and NASCAR Xfinity, to see him grow as a driver on the track as well as a person off the track, he is a racer and he gets it done on the track,” Rushbrook told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “He also carries himself very well outside of the vehicle and represents our company very well. We are excited to see the success for Chase and we see that as a representation that we are doing the right things with our driver development program. We wish him the best of luck starting his Cup rookie season.”
Rushbrook’s excitement also extends to Austin Cindric, after witnessing him capture the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship last season ahead of his Cup debut set to take place in this year’s Daytona 500.
“He has certainly been on a great growth curve both on and off the track and we are proud having him represent us in both places and we look forward to his Cup debut with a handful of races this year, including the Daytona 500, and looking forward to seeing him in a Cup full season in 2022,” Rushbrook continued.
As these drivers start to move on to the next phase of their career, Ford’s pipeline is not growing empty as the next wave of stars are ready to go for 2021. Hailie Deegan, Tanner Gray and Todd Gilliland lead the charge in the Truck Series, while Riley Herbst joins Stewart-Haas Racing in Xfinity. The Monster Energy athlete spent last year with Joe Gibbs Racing, scoring four top-five’s en route to a 12th-place ranking in the standings.
“He showed great potential with the equipment he was in last year,” Rushbrook commented. “It is a good benchmark that he is going into the same car that Chase Briscoe was in with basically the same team around him that Chase had. It is a great opportunity to see what he is truly capable of in that equipment and environment. We don’t expect him to go out and win his first race but we look forward to seeing him get a good baseline to start the season and then continue to go through the year.
“We are really excited to have him join our family and program and look forward to seeing how he develops throughout the year.”
Beyond that, other names have crossed the desk as Rushbrook says he’s already spoke to Kevin Harvick about his son Keelan, and is ready to send a contract over.