Ford working to create better teamwork between Roush and Penske teams

Sean Gardner

In an effort to increase performance, Ford is pushing for improved teamwork between Roush Fenway Racing and Penske Racing.

When Ford recruited Penske Racing last season to join its NASCAR program, it was seeking to replicate the harmony Toyota and Chevrolet shared amongst its teams.

But one of the immediate questions was how Penske, coming off a season in which it had won the Sprint Cup championship, would co-exist with Roush Fenway Racing, long Ford's flagship team.

Through the early portions of this season the results have been decidedly mixed.

The manufacturer has struggled to keep pace with Toyota and Chevy this year. On the season, a Ford-backed driver has been to Victory Lane just twice and has only one ranked driver eighth or better in the standings.

Perhaps more troublesome, the lines of communication between Penske and Roush have not been as open as Ford would like.

"We added a new member into a family that was accustomed to doing certain things," said Director of Ford Racing, Jamie Allison in a Tuesday teleconference. "When you add a new member to a family you have to give it some time. If you look at the season, there were moments and times where the performance of one team versus another was not directly related to a common cause."

While Roush has won a race this season and Penske has not, it is the newest member of the Ford family that has shown more consistent speed. There are some in the Ford camp who believe Penske has not been as forthright in allocating information as needed.

In an interview last week, Greg Biffle was candid in the dichotomy that exists in having two competing teams working with one another in an effort to act as one entity.

"Ford sparked the discussion of how can our teams elevate one another without an open book, without giving away our speed secrets," Biffle said. "It's a delicate situation. It's hard to do. We have proprietary stuff and they do [too]. We're still racing against them for the championship and the chase spots. It is difficult."

Allison downplayed the lack of cohesion among the Ford teams when asked Tuesday.

"It really isn't a case of one team versus another," he said. "It is a case of all the Ford teams looking at those five areas and finding how we can bring together all that we understand and know and lift the performance of all our teams."

However, Allison did state that the issue of better teamwork was broached in a closed-door meeting Ford officials had Monday with Jack Roush and Roger Penske in an effort to spur more cooperation between the two teams.

The hope is with the season nearing the halfway point there will be a better sharing of data gathered, which will increase performance and lead to Ford capturing its first manufacturers' championship since 2002.

"You can't just have an addition to a family and expect everything to operate as it did before," Allison said. "We really do need to just give it a little bit of time to allow for the blended, broader family to come together a little more cohesively and get comfortable with each other and then allow for more synergy coming out of working together.

"It just takes a little time. Those are not really the things that are the reasons for where we are where we are. There are more pragmatic, foundational platform relational elements that we are addressing."

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