Ford Performance announces NASCAR driver development program – Nascar

Ford Performance announced Thursday another major push in its NASCAR initiative, launching a driver development program ahead of the 2017 season.

The first phase includes an agreement with Brad Keselowski Racing, placing new Ford signee Chase Briscoe in a full-time ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Ford Performance indicated that other stages of the driver development program would be announced at a later time. The program is designed to cultivate home-grown talent for all Ford teams in NASCAR. According to the news release, current teams will be consulted about driver selection and placement, but their contractual ties will reside with Ford, which will also use signees in product development and testing.

“We’re making a commitment to win long-term in NASCAR,” Dave Pericak, Ford Performance’s global director, said in a release provided by the manufacturer. “We have been increasing our engineering support and our technological development at the team level, and now we’re looking to work with our teams to find the best available drivers coming up in the sport.”

The move further strengthens the ties with the automaker and team owner Brad Keselowski, which will field Ford trucks full-time for Austin Cindric and now Briscoe this season. Briscoe, a 22-year-old Indiana native with a rich sprint-car racing pedigree, landed the ARCA championship in 2016, riding a six-win season to the series crown.

“This is a big day in the history of BKR,” Keselowski said in the news release. “To be recognized as a true partner to Ford and Ford Performance and what they are trying to do speaks directly to the hard work our team has put in over the last several years. It is an honor, frankly, and it is really what BKR is all about — providing young, talented drivers with championship-caliber equipment to continue to hone their craft and showcase their talents.

“We have been fortunate to have had a lot of success together with Ford across the three major NASCAR touring series and to now elevate that relationship in an official capacity is a testament to what we set out to do.”

The move marks the second significant boost for Ford’s racing program ahead of the season. Stewart-Haas Racing‘s four-car organization has joined the Blue Oval camp for 2017, helping Ford Performance increase its numbers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage. That expansion also included the birth of a NASCAR XFINITY Series program for SHR, with Cole Custer competing full-time and Kevin Harvick driving on a part-time basis.

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