Matt Kenseth and David Ragan will run the new Ford FR9 engine for the first time in the upcoming Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega.
Ford claims that the new powerplant, which has been designed and developed under the guidance of Doug Yates and Ford Racing engineer David Simon, is the first purpose-built NASCAR racing motor to ever come out of Ford Motor Company. The engine is completely new in its design relative to the current version and its development started three years ago. Yates believes the FR9 incorporates several improvements that will not only allow for increased horsepower, but also a better overall package.
"This puts us on a level playing field with the rest of the competition and it's something we're excited about working on," said Yates. "Right out of the box the engine is really impressive power-wise. We feel like it's going to give us some advantages aerodynamically where, perhaps, we can tape the cars up more and run the engines hotter.
"The oiling system is designed for a racing engine and, to this day, the current engine has done a great job for many years, but we've got to remember when I started 20 years ago the block was already in existence. So a lot of things have changed. The demands have changed. The RPM and the power levels have changed tremendously, and to have an opportunity to have something new and move forward makes this an exciting time to be part of Ford."
The current Ford engine is based on the 351 production unit. The block has remained the same since the 1970's and amazing increases in horsepower have been achieved since then.
The most recent dyno test done by NASCAR showed that the current Ford engine has the highest power output in the Sprint Cup series, something that bodes well for the new purpose-built racing powerplant.
"It's a reflection of the great effort by the Ford engineers, by Doug Yates and his people, by my guys, and a vendor or two that we consulted with," said Jack Roush. "Together they have brought cutting-edge technologies and cutting-edge thinking for casting layouts and torque loading, and for the way the stress and the fatigue will be carried throughout the structure.
"We expect the castings to be more durable. We expect the valve seat life and the piston life to be improved and we expect a better result from the drivetrain. We look for decades of usefulness with the FR9. I feel sure it will contribute greatly to our teams and to Ford's future success in the sport."
Although cars run almost flat out for the whole lap at Talladega, the fact that the engines run with the mandated restrictor plate means they won't be releasing the unit's full power on their first outing. It is still unclear when they will race the FR9 unrestricted for the first time.
None of the Ford drivers currently in the Chase are expected to race the new engine this year and no timetable has yet been set for its full implementation by every team.