Will the NASCAR Mustang Dark Horse Turn Around Ford’s Fortunes in 2024?
Despite Ryan Blaney’s advancement to the NASCAR championship race, Ford hasn’t had the best season in 2023. Now, though, the Blue Oval is bringing the new Ford Mustang Dark Horse to NASCAR. It might be coming at the right time, as Ford needs a lift if it is to return to form in 2024.
Ford’s lackluster 2023 NASCAR season
Following Joey Logano’s 2022 Championship, Ford entered the 2023 NASCAR season on a relative high. However, it wasn’t long before the Mustang’s troubles appeared. While manufacturers don’t have an immense level of involvement in their respective teams’ success, it was clear the Ford teams were collectively on the back foot.
Through the 22nd race of 2023, Ford drivers won just two races. On the year as a whole, Ford has nabbed just eight total victories. Comparatively, Chevrolet snagged 17 victories and Toyota 10 total wins so far this year. Moreover, Stewart-Haas Racing enters the final weekend with no victories, and Team Penske has just four wins. Roush Fenway Keselowski accounts for three of Ford’s 2023 victories, and Front Row Motorsports nabbed one win at the Indianapolis Road Course. All of that to say, Ford needs a new direction to find contending speed in 2024.
Moreover, 2023 marks the third straight season where Ford failed to nab double-digit victories. That’s a considerable fall after a high of 18 victories in 2020.
The Ford Mustang Dark Horse comes to NASCAR at the perfect time
Truthfully, Ford teams have struggled with the aerodynamics of the current Ford Mustang shape. Both in the Gen 6 and Next Gen eras, the blunt nose and boxy tail design have caused issues for blue oval teams. In an interview with Fox Sports in June, Penske driver Joey Logano said, “We’re lacking downforce. There was a comparison done a few weeks ago, and everybody got to see it, so that’s the situation.”
Downforce is the key to speed, especially for NASCAR’s NextGen car. This aerodynamic force pushes the car into the track, increasing grip for improved corner speeds. Logano’s teammate Ryan Blaney elaborated, saying, “It’s no secret that we’ve struggled a bit on the intermediates just searching for speed and figuring out the new nose we have.”
The 2024 Mustang Dark Horse changes that entirely. NASCAR rules preclude major component changes midway through the season. Even adjusting current models means a costly development and approval process, often undertaken by the manufacturers rather than the teams.
But introducing a new model is an opportunity for Ford to rectify its current problems with a brand-new concept. The new model doesn’t just justify the cost, but it lets the manufacturer address its current deficiencies while matching the race car to the new road car design.
Look forward to seeing the new NASCAR Mustang Dark Horse in February
This weekend is the last of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. Ford driver Ryan Blaney has a chance to send out the current NASCAR Ford Mustang with a championship.
Our first opportunity to see the 2024 Mustang Dark Horse on a NASCAR track will be at the LA Coliseum for the Clash exhibition race in February. Until then, Ford’s NASCAR teams will be working diligently to ensure the new body style offers better performance.