Confirming an announcement that had been expected for months, Ford Performance revealed Tuesday morning that it will field the Mustang in the Cup Series next season.
The model has been campaigned in the Xfinity Series since 2010. It will succeed the Fusion in NASCAR’s premier series.
It’s the first time the Mustang will run in the top level of NASCAR.
Here’s the release from Ford Performance:
DEARBORN, Mich., April 17, 2018 – Global demand for the new 2018 model has driven Ford Mustang to its third straight year as the best-selling sports coupe in the world.
Global Mustang registrations in 2017 totaled 125,809 cars, according to Ford analysis of the most recent new light vehicle registration data from IHS Markit. This data – compiled from government and other sources and capturing 95 percent of global new vehicle volumes in more than 80 countries – puts Mustang ahead of all other sports coupe competitors worldwide.
Sports coupes, as defined by IHS Markit, include two-door and convertible models.
“The world loves Ford Mustang,” says Erich Merkle, Ford sales analyst. “For years, Mustang was unobtainable for customers on most parts of the planet. It could only be found on TV or the Internet, and now it rolls down streets from Beijing to São Paulo.”
Of the nearly 126,000 vehicles registered worldwide, Ford reported 81,866 of those were registered in the United States, meaning just over one-third of all Mustang registrations are occurring in export markets. Demand remains particularly strong in China, where Mustang was the best-selling sports coupe last year based on 7,125 registrations.
The most popular configuration worldwide is the Mustang GT with the iconic 5.0-liter V8. While sports cars have traditionally skewed toward male buyers in the United States, Mustang is increasingly finding favor with women. In an environment of relatively flat sports car sales to women, Ford research shows a 10 percent gain in women buying Mustang in the last five years.
Since global exports began in 2015, through December 2017, Ford has sold 418,000 Mustangs in 146 countries around the world.
Building off its popularity, Ford also is announcing Mustang is coming to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – professional stock car racing’s top league – for the first time, beginning at Daytona in February.
“We’re combining America’s favorite sports car with America’s top stock car racing series,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “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.”
Mustang has competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since 2011, winning championships in all but one season. It has taken Team Penske to four owner’s championships in the last five years and carried Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to consecutive driver’s championships in 2011 and 2012.
This will be Ford’s fourth different Cup model in NASCAR’s modern era (1972-present), following Thunderbird, Taurus and Fusion.
“This announcement makes me very happy,” said Edsel B. Ford II, a member of Ford Motor Company’s board of directors. “Mustang is a car that is woven into the fabric of our country, and it’s only right that we put it on the track in NASCAR’s most visible series. I can’t wait.”
Ford has six organizations and 13 teams in its NASCAR lineup, including Wood Brothers Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing, Front Row Motorsports and Go Fas Racing.
Mustang is still going through initial testing and will be formally submitted to NASCAR for approval this summer. A public unveiling of the finished product will soon follow.
The first series points race for Mustang will be the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2019.