There have been 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races held at BMS since 2004 and Roush Fenway drivers have captured five of them, including the past four Sharpie 500s.
It seems fitting then that Ford was named the official vehicle of BMS last month, and the automaker’s relationship with the track became even stronger with the creation of Ford Fan Friday, announced Tuesday with team owner Jack Roush on hand.
While details of the event, which will be held on the Friday of the Food City 500 race weekend March 20-22, will be announced in the days ahead, Bristol Motor Speedway president and general manager Jeff Byrd said the goal was to give area race fans a tremendous amount of bang for their buck.
“We are committed to giving the fans more than they’ve ever gotten,” he said. “We’re not in the camp that believes that you can save yourself to greatness — I promise you that.
“We’re going to spend and we’re going to give the fans more.”
Ford Fan Friday, also being held in collaboration with Pepsi and Food City, will feature a slew of events centered around qualifying for the Food City 500.
“The whole focus that day will be on the fan,” Byrd said. “We’re going to have so much to do at such a small cost, it’s going to be the best value in NASCAR.”
Roush was in town along with Brian Wolfe, the director of Ford Racing, to visit with a few of the local Ford dealers at the Bruton Smith Building. The event turned into a Blue Oval pep rally at times with plenty of talk of the new products Ford has to offer, the success Roush has had while racing Fords for the past 55 years and an optimistic outlook of the company’s future.
“I can’t imagine an economy without Ford Motor Company,” Roush said. “I think that Ford will rebound from the current economic situation better than the other domestic brands.”
Aside from economics, Roush tried to put his finger on exactly how his drivers have been able to tame BMS by winning 50 percent of the Cup races at the venue over the last five years.
“The first three or four times we came here with Mark (Martin), we always seemed to get caught up in a wreck,” he said. “I really can’t say why we’re so successful at Bristol except for the fact that you’ve got to have nerves of steel and be really motivated.
“Seemingly, we’ve attracted a corps of drivers that share those attributes.”
Roush is excited about the prospects of his five-car team as the 2009 season looms on the horizon.
With Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle finding their way to Victory Lane in 2008, Jamie McMurray and David Ragan making strides and Matt Kenseth set to get back on track after making a crew chief change during the offseason, Roush is expecting success.
“Jamie McMurray ended on a really good note last year and I think he’s going to win races this year,” Roush predicted.
The new season will also be important for Ford Racing because Roush Fenway and Yates Racing will be rolling out Ford’s brand-new engine. Roush said NASCAR will allow the automaker to phase in the new engines this season but he’s planning to get the most out of the current engines before completely switching over.
“Our existing engine that dates back to the ’70s is a great engine,” Roush said. “It makes competitive horsepower and is very reliable.
“There’s not really a pressing emergency for us to change it. The new engine, even though we think it will have a better cooling system performance, it really doesn’t make more power than the old engine.”