DEARBORN, Mich. — Kevin Harvick has six wins this season in the NASCAR Cup Series, so if any Ford driver should be a little hesitant about a change in his car for 2019, it should be the 2014 series champion.
But Harvick figures his Stewart-Haas Racing organization has shown the ability to adapt — it switched from Chevrolet to Ford in 2017 — so a switch from a Fusion body style to a Mustang body style for 2019 doesn’t cause him huge concern.
“I think it would be foolish of me to stand here and say I’m 100 percent certain it is going to go well because you never know where things are going to be and apparently don’t know what the rules are going to be,” Harvick said following the unveil of the new car Thursday at Ford’s headquarters.
NASCAR is toying with using a drafting package it used in the all-star race this year in several events next year, but it is negotiating with the teams on which tracks that package would run.
If NASCAR keeps its aerodynamic package similar to last year’s, Harvick says he has confidence in the car for those events.
“[They have been] involving the aero engineers and people from the race teams to try to accomplish the things they want and learn along the way, what [things] make the car make sideforce or more downforce,” Harvick said.
“All those head aero engineers have a good idea of what they’re working with and excited to work with it. As a team and as a group, we wouldn’t be making a change if we didn’t think there would be more potential to be better.”
Drivers were consulted during the design process, but Harvick said it is limited as Ford tried to make sure the body design looks like the passenger car in addition to meeting NASCAR’s standards.
“A lot of people have been involved … to help us get the character and the speed in the car at the same time,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports.
NASCAR has conducted a wind tunnel test with other manufacturers present to make sure the car body fits the range designed to create parity among the manufacturers.
“There’s definitely been conversations about the car from a balance standpoint, [that] is purely the biggest thing we have talked about from a driver standpoint,” Harvick said.
“You’re going to talk about bumpers and the way that you superspeedway race [at Daytona]. … It’s more the designers going to accomplish whatever the targets are set by the teams and making it as versatile as possible.”