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2020 NASCAR Ford preview: Expect Team Penske, Stewart-Haas drivers to contend again – Charlotte Observer

2020 NASCAR Ford preview: Expect Team Penske, Stewart-Haas drivers to contend again – Charlotte Observer
12 Dec
5:10

When you have just one driver advance to the NASCAR Cup championship four and then he’s not there at the end — then a season can be described as a disappointment.

At least that’s the case at Ford, a manufacturer that’s used to winning championships at the Cup level but didn’t achieve that this season.

Although Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick made it to the final four at Homestead, he was the lone non-Toyota driver to do so. And, after finishing fourth, he came up short in his quest for a second title. With Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano on the outside looking in at Homestead, Ford will look for bigger things from its two flagship teams in 2020.

Here’s a preview of Ford’s teams for the upcoming season:

Team Penske

There are no changes at Team Penske — which means Keselowski and Logano will again compete strongly for the Cup title and Ryan Blaney’s career should continue on an upward trajectory. Keselowski, who won the title in 2012 and Logano, the 2018 champ, will always be there in the playoffs. But when neither of them makes the championship four — as was the case this season — it’s considered a under-achieving season. Blaney has made the postseason and won a race in each of the past three seasons.

Stewart-Haas Racing

In Harvick, SHR has one of the most consistently excellent drivers of this era. He was the lone driver not from Joe Gibbs Racing to advance to the championship four this past season. Rookie Cole Custer arrives to replace Daniel Suarez in SHR’s No. 41 car. The biggest news out of SHR this offseason is the switching of crew chiefs between Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer. Mike Bugarewicz goes from Bowyer’s No. 14 to Almirola’s No. 10; and John Klausmeier moves from Almirola to Bowyer.

Roush Fenway Racing

Chris Buescher joins Ryan Newman at RFR. Newman has only won one race since 2013, but has shown up in the playoffs for three consecutive seasons. Buescher, who started his career at RFR, returns, replacing Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the the team’s No. 17 Ford.

Wood Brothers

The Woods’ iconic No. 21 Ford will be driven this season by Matt DiBenedetto, who was let go by Leavine Family Racing in September. DiBenedetto, who hasn’t won yet but finished second at Bristol in August, replaces Paul Menard, who retired.

Other teams

Michael McDowell will drive Front Row’s No. 34 Mustang, replacing the retired David Ragan. The status of FRM’s No. 36 is uncertain after Matt Tifft announced he would miss the 2020 seasons due to health concerns … Corey LaJoie, starting his second season with Go Fas Racing, had two top 10s in 2019.

David Scott: @davidscott14

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Source: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nascar-auto-racing/thatsracin/article238179884.html

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