Today is the Ford Mustang's 54th birthday, and the blue oval announced today that it will celebrate the pony car's anniversary with entry into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
"We’re combining America’s favorite sports car with America’s top stock car racing series," stated Mark Rushbrook, head of Ford Performance Motorsports, in the company's press release. "Mustang always has been about affordable performance, which can be traced to innovations we’ve made competing in racing, like NASCAR. Mustang is a perfect fit for our racing heritage today and tomorrow."
The Mustang will displace the company's outgoing Fusions, and become the fourth generation of Ford stock cars. This is not due to the Fusion's slipping sales in today's crossover-dominated market, but is instead because a new NASCAR Cup car is warranted.
"This is more of a case for Ford being due for a new model," stated Kevin Kennedy of Ford Racing to The Drive. "As Ford's most iconic performance car, [it] makes sense to move Mustang into Cup [racing], which is the most popular form of racing in America. We have been racing the Fusion since 2006, and it's still a great race car."
Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance, reiterated this point in a teleconference held for media on Tuesday.
"Our cycle plan for the road car did not play a factor in changing to the Mustang," said Rusbrook. "That was driven based upon the excitement of that car and the performance that we think we can get out of it, so it does not signify or signal anything about the Fusion road car future."
The Mustang was used in the Xfinity series, which plays second fiddle to the Monster Energy series, but there will be little more than wisdom that carries forward into the new Mustang Cup car. All thirteen Ford-operating teams will switch from their current Fusions and adopt the succeeding Mustang, which will make its championship debut at the 2019 Daytona 500.
Mustangs will also be found in Australia's historic V8 Supercars championship in 2019, phasing out the Falcons, whose road car counterpart's production ended for good more than 18 months ago.