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With SHR Gone After 2024, Who Becomes Ford’s Premier Xfinity Series Team?

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What’s Happening?

With the news that Stewart-Haas Racing will close at the end of 2024, one of the top NASCAR Xfinity Series teams is closing its doors. This leaves Ford in an awkward position with very few cars on the grid in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, so, who could take over as Ford’s premier Xfinity Series team?

  • The loss of SHR leaves Ford with only four full-time Xfinity team owners and seven full-time cars combined. While that is more than Toyota has (two team owners and six cars combined), it’s still a downgrade from what Ford currently has.
  • Ford has publically admitted that the Xfinity Series is not as high on the priority list as other series. Therefore, would the loss of Stewart-Haas Racing be as big as we think?
  • Fans are curious to see how Ford does without SHR. Who else could take over the spot SHR once had in NASCAR’s second division?

How Ford Views Xfinity

In what may surprise some people, Ford actually prioritizes the Truck Series over the NASCAR Xfinity Series, despite the Truck Series technically being the third-tier, one notch below Xfinity. Ford Performance’s Mark Rushbrook explained this shortly after Ford announced Hailie Deegan would move from Trucks to Xfinity.

We see a benefit to Trucks in terms of the marketing and driver development. Obviously, with Mustangs racing in Cup and the teams that we have, there is not as much value in Xfinity. And not even necessarily the need for a driver to go through Xfinity to get to Cup as you’ve seen with Todd Gilliland going from Trucks to Cup…In order of priority, we actually put Truck at a higher priority than we do Xfinity.

Mark Rushbrook

Rushbrook gives two major reasons for Ford prioritizing Trucks over Xfinity. One is marketing. Ford already has Mustangs in the Xfinity Series, so, the Truck Series allows them to market a different product (the F-150) to a new audience.

Secondly, there is the overall driver pipeline. In recent years, drivers like Todd Gilliland, Carson Hocevar, and Zane Smith have jumped straight up to the Cup Series from Trucks with either no or very little Xfinity Series experience.

This can be credited to how similar the Trucks are to the Cup Series Next-Gen cars. Brennan Poole also opened up on an episode of Power Hour last year about the similarities between the Truck Series and Cup Series vehicles.

I’ve driven all three cars now. The Trucks are way closer to the Cup car than the Xfinity car is. It’s not even close. It almost messes me up going from the Cup car to the Xfinity car or the Xfinity car to the Cup car. They’re that drastically different.

Brennan Poole

In that regard, it makes sense that Ford would prioritize Trucks over Xfinity. However, does that mean they should abandon Xfinity entirely? That’s for Ford to decide, but they need to add another premier partner team if they want to stay competitive in Xfinity.

Who Could Ford Add?

Ford currently has three race teams under its banner: RSS Racing (3 cars), SS Greenlight (2 cars), Viking Motorsports (1 car), and AM Racing (1 car). None of these teams are consistent race-win contenders, and they have only two Xfinity Series wins combined.

Could Ford inject some more resources into one or more of these organizations? They could, but, it would be a big risk to expect these teams to suddenly perform at the level SHR has the last few years. Looking at the Cup Series, Ford’s newest Tier One “Key Partner” team, Front Row Motorsports, hasn’t improved much compared to last year, with both drivers sitting outside of the top 20 in points.

Ford could coax one of the current Chevy teams to join. However, those options are limited.

Kaulig Racing, which also has a Cup Series program, has deep ties with Trackhouse, so that’s probably not an option. Alpha Prime Racing and Jordan Anderson Racing have shown some promise this year, but they’re about on the same level as the teams Ford already has.

Maybe Ford could allow a current Cup Series team to open up an Xfinity Series program. Maybe RFK or Team Penske could do this, but those two organizations closed their Xfinity Series programs in recent years. If they don’t see the investment, then why do it?

Overall, Ford is in a tough place with SHR leaving. However, Ford’s priorities mean their situation may not be as dire as some may think.

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