NASCAR notes: New Ford Performance boss hopes to help Roush

Car race asphalt and curb on Monaco Montecarlo Grand Prix street circuit
Car race asphalt and curb on Monaco Montecarlo Grand Prix street circuit

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Ford isn’t exactly throwing a lifeline to Roush Fenway Racing, but it is helping the team paddle upstream.

Jack Roush and his once powerful race team need help, and Dave Pericak is willing to pitch in.

Pericak is the new Global Ford Performance director and was introduced to the media at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday. He heads up what was Ford Racing and is working with the struggling Roush organization and other Ford NASCAR Sprint Cup teams, including Team Penske.

In renaming the Blue Oval’s racing division, Pericak said he is bringing more resources, technology and, presumably, more cash, inside Ford to NASCAR, which is good news for Roush, which has been hurting for results the past couple of seasons.

“We are with Jack all the time, and we spend a lot of time with Jack’s team and we are making all the right, I believe, changes not only within the Roush Fenway organization, but as we apply our technical resources within Ford Performance assisting Jack and his team to get to a better place,” Pericak said.

Unlike Team Penske, Roush needs a serious boost.

Penske has drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano in the top 10 in Cup points.

For Roush at MIS, Trevor Bayne finished ninth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 25th and Greg Biffle 36th. In the Cup standings, Biffle is 20th, Bayne 27th and Stenhouse Jr. 28th.

These aren’t typical Roush numbers. The team has been a perennial front-runner, and the Cat in the Hat does not like the word slow or failure.

“We are expecting to continue the progress we have seen in recent weeks continue on over the remainder of the season,” Roush said before the race. “I think Biffle is close.”

Pericak supports Roush’s view.

“We have seen progress,” said Pericak, who will spearhead Ford’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Ford GT in 2016. “We are excited about what we have seen so far. Obviously, we need to see more, but we are confident that Jack is dedicated with his team to do that. We are partners in this, and our goal is to make them perform better and we are expecting a better performance to today (at MIS). There is nothing that is not on the table.”

–Headed across the ocean:

So, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in search of his roots.

In Germany, no less.

With NASCAR off this weekend for Father’s Day, Earnhardt will visit Germany.

“Well, I got some specific towns that we are going to visit that we understand my ancestors are from,” Earnhardt said after finishing second in the Quicken Loans 400 at MIS on Sunday. “I’ve been searching my genealogy for about five years now, and I made a promise to myself then that I would go to Germany and understand more about my ancestors when I turn 40, so here I am.”

Earnhardt has not flown commercial in many years.

“I’m real nervous about flying over there,” Earnhardt said. “I haven’t flown commercial since 9/11. So it’s been a long time. My friends tell me I’m in for a treat, and just hopefully it’s a good trip.”

He will travel with a group.

“I’m taking my sister and LW, Larry Wayne, her husband. And Amy (girlfriend) is going with me, of course, and the lead IT guy from JR Motorsports, Martin Frederick, he’s from Germany. So he’s going with us as well and really kind of help us understand how not to insult anybody.”

Earnhardt said he hopes to come back with some great stories.

“Hopefully, I’ll get pictures,” he said. “And we will certainly share.”

–Ton of fun:

Keselowski was with Pericak in the media center.

When the topic of Le Mans was raised, both wore big smiles.

What can we expect to see from Ford on the grid in the world’s premier sports car endurance race next year?

“Hopefully some of the best race cars you have ever seen,” Pericak said. “The EcoBoost-powered sports car is going to be over 600 horsepower and will be state of the art in terms of aerodynamics, weight and power train. We are going to have one fantastic race car.”

One that Keselowski, the 2012 Cup champion and accomplished road racer, would like to drive at Le Mans — if his NASCAR schedule would allow.

“Yes, I was just watching the (Le Mans) race up here out of the corner of my eye on TV, and it looks way different but still looks like a lot of fun,” said Keselowski (Rochester Hills). “I guess the first thing you have to say is that Ford has built, this new GT, what is going to be an icon of a car.

“In that sense, any driver that still has a pulse wants to drive an icon. Whoever does get to drive is going to be a very, very, very lucky race car driver.”

–A super promise:

At one point Sunday, Keselowski ended up in the Fox Sports TV booth during one of the many red-flag rain delays.

Conversation turned to Keselowski’s visit to the Lions’ practice facility recently where he met coach Jim Caldwelland players, including receiver Golden Tate.

During their chat, Keselowski and Tate checked out Sunday’s pace car, the Ford Mustang GT, which was on display at the field.

Tate said he’d like one.

Keselowski replied that if the Lions won the Super Bowl, he would call Lions owner Bill Ford Jr.and suggest he send one to Tate.

Fox commentators reminded Keselowski of his promise to get a Mustang GT to Tate.

“I have a feeling they (the Lions) are going to get there very soon,” laughed Keselowski of the Lions’ ongoing struggle to win a Super Bowl. “I didn’t say I’d buy a car for him (Tate).”

Contact Mike Brudenell: Follow him on Twitter @mikebrudenell. ___


This article was written by Mike Brudenell from Detroit Free Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.