In fact, the odds were not in Ford’s favor.
In each of the three season finales – in Trucks, Xfinity and Cup – Ford had just one driver eligible to win the championship in each series.
And yet, when Sunday’s Cup finale had ended, Ford had completed an unlikely sweep of all three titles – the first time a manufacturer had accomplished the feat since Chevrolet in the 2001 season.
Ben Rhodes won his second Truck title Friday night in a race that dragged through four overtimes, Cole Custer won Saturday’s Xfinity race and with it his first series title and Ryan Blaney finished second in Sunday’s Cup finale, but good enough to claim his first series championship.
It was a mix of Ford’s emerging NASCAR driving talent, with the oldest of the three drivers being Blaney at 29 years.
“All three national series are so competitive, you’ve got to be on your game for every element of the program, whether it’s the engine, the chassis, the set-up, the aero, the driver, the pit crew, everything has got to be right,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of motorsports for Ford Performance.
“Yeah, we did struggle for sure, especially in Cup early on certain style tracks. All of our racing teams working together, nobody gave up, they kept digging, certainly came on strong, especially with Team Penske and the No. 12 car through the playoffs.
“We’ve had seasons where we won a lot of races and not won a championship. That’s been a disappointment. We didn’t win as many races as we would have liked to this year, but to win three championships just makes a statement I think about the team we have in Ford Performance – the partnership and the family that we have racing our cars and trucks on track.”
In all three series, either Toyota or Chevrolet seemed to dominate the headlines with drivers who won the most races.
But in the playoffs – where performance matters most – it was Ford drivers that delivered when the biggest prize was on the line.
“You want to always have at least one driver in the Championship 4 for every series. You’d like to have more. We had one driver in,” Rushbrook said.
“I knew we had a good shot with all of those drivers and teams. But so much happens during the races. Especially Friday night, things could have gone any direction. You just never know.”
The championships capped off a big week for Ford. Last week, the manufacturer announced it was moving to an…