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So Robby Gordon is switching from Ford to Dodge - who cares you say?
Ford fans ought to. At the end of the 2007 Nextel Cup season, the Blue Oval brigade looked to be a solid number two in the manufacturer’s championship race going into 2008’s innaugural Sprint Cup Series season. The thinking was Roush-Fenway Racing had slipped up and fallen behind the CoT and general testing programs of the big Chevy outfits. The Ford faithful assumed that Jack Roush would straighten out the problems and restore Ford to at least competitive equality with the dominant Hendrick-Gibbs-Childress troika.
Observers of preseason testing are telling us otherwise. The Joe Gibbs Racing move to Toyota has boosted that brand’s prospects. Many experts think that Toyota may well jump to number two status. Boris Said told us on last week’s ON PIT ROW that the speed and sheer numbers of the Toyotas will make it very tough for his Ford team to qualify for non-road course races.
Ford vs Dodge
The real question is; can Ford keep from falling to fourth, behind Dodge in the Cup Series? Look at the rosters of the two makes and compare.
Ford teams will field eight fulltime teams in 2008, led by Roush-Fenway’s fivesome. Dodge enters 2008 with a lucky thirteen. Seven of Ford’s eight have top 35 owner’s points while Dodge gets twelve of it’s thirteen in each of the first five races. So far it looks like, advantage Dodge, if quantity counts. If you’re one of those quality folks - here’s my personal Power Ranking of the Ford vs Dodge NASCAR battle.
- #17 Ford -Matt Kenseth - past champ, two time 2007 race winner and Chaser
- #2 Dodge - Kurt Busch - see above
- #99 Ford - Carl Edwards - three time race winner in 2007 and Chaser
- #12 Dodge - Ryan Newman - 12 career wins, no Chase but a solid 2007
- #9 Dodge - Kasey Kahne - Bad 2007 but won 6 in 2006 - just a hunch
- #16 Ford - Greg Biffle - Missed the Chase but got a win
- #26 Ford - Jamie McMurray - see Biffle
- #42 Dodge - Juan Pablo Montoya - 2007 Rookie of the Year won a race too
- #43 Dodge - Bobby Labonte - past champ finished ahead of Kahne and Montoya
- #41 Dodge - Reed Sorenson - his 2007 points put him here
- #6 Ford - David Ragan - ditto
- #19 Dodge - Elliott Sadler - very tempted to rate higher
- #7 Dodge - Robby Gordon - ditto
- #38 Ford - David Gilliland - The Yates team is Ford’s wild card, they hope
- #40 Dodge - Dario Franchitti - I think the 2008 ROY will drive a Dodge
- #28 Ford - Travis Kvapil - see Gilliland
- #21 Ford - Bill Elliott et al - Awesome Bill’s provisionals will payoff later with starts
- #45 Dodge - Kyle Petty - Must stay in the top 35
- #77 Dodge - Sam Hornish Jr - My pick for ROY, but I’m hedging that bet
- #10 Dodge - Patrick Carpentier - Going to have a tough time qualifying to race
I give the nod to Dodge. Kurt Busch and Kenseth are a push. Maybe the Ford boys get a slight edge in slots 3 through 8 but Newman and Kahne have championship capability in them - it’s close. The Dodge advantage is in depth and the fact that it’s major teams are all agressive and growing. I like the look of Gillette-Everham, Penske, Ganassi-Sabates and even Petty Enterprises over Roush Fenway and the struggling Yates and Wood Brothers.
Picture credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images