Ford couldn’t have picked a better time to introduce its Nascar-bound Mustang: the ponies can’t stop winning in 2009, with two series already wrapped up and a shot at the podium in NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Funny Car Series, SCCA Speed World Challenge GT Series, and Formula Drift Professional Drifting.
Ken Wilden took the Grand Am KONI Challenge driver title.
Road racing is where it’s at for the specially prepped Mustang FR500C. For the second consecutive year, the Ford claimed the triple crown of the Grand Am KONI Challenge, winning team, driver and manufacturers' championships. Ken Wilden took the driver’s title, and Wilden and teammate Dean Martin captured the team title for Rehagen Racing with a sixth place finish at the season-ending Bosch Engineering Octoberfest at Virginia International Raceway. The championship was the first for Wilden and the team.
"We took over the points lead by the second race," Wilden said in a Ford Racing news release. "Our performance has been solid and consistent. The Mustang has been a phenomenal car. It feels good to win the championship. It's been 13 years since my last championship, and it's been a while since I've been in a car that I could say I could win one in."
Pushing the Mustang to the top of the manufacturers’ competition were Bret Seafuse and James Gue in their JBS Motorsports Ford Mustang GT. The victory at VIR edged out BMW by four points (348-344) to help Ford capture back-to-back manufacturers' titles. Ford Mustangs dominated the 2009 KONI Challenge, winning five races and finishing on the podium in eight of the 11 races.
Robert Hight is in the hunt for the NHRA championship.
There are just three races remaining in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series, and six of the 10 drivers eligible for the playoff run drive Mustangs.
Carrying the Blue Oval and the pony car into championship run are 14-time champion John Force, Ashley Force Hood, Robert Hight, Mike Neff, Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson. Mustang pilots have hoisted the Wally in six out of the last seven races.
14-time world MHRA champ John Force.
Heading into Richmond this weekend, Force Hood sits atop the points standings while Hight is a close second, Tasca remains in sixth while Force, Wilkerson and Neff occupy the seventh through ninth positions.
"I'm excited that six of the top 10 are Ford Mustangs,” Hight said it best after clinching the final spot in NHRA's Countdown to 1, “and, you know what, one of us ought to win this championship."
SCCA GT Series
SCCA Speed World Championship GT Series Mustang driver Brandon Davis is leading the point standings with only one race to left in his season. Davis needs to finish sixth or better in the last race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend to win the Speed World Challenge GT Championship.
In his last outing at Road Atlanta, Davis raced in the new 2010 Mustang and hopes to capture the title in the latest model.
"We are optimistic going into the final round, but the fact is, it's not over yet," Davis said. "We're very aware of that, and we'll be celebrating afterwards hopefully, but for right now, we're still focused on the task at hand."
One of the most recognizable cars in the Formula Drifting Professional Drifting Championship Series is the Falken Mustang driven by Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Gittin sits third in series standings with one race left in the season. The last round in the series takes place Friday and Saturday, OCt. 16 and 17 at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California.
Mustang driver Andrew Caddell claimed the 2009 championship when he took the checkered flag at Miller Motorsports Park two weeks ago. Caddell is now the two-time Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Series champion. Caddell successful defended his inaugural Mustang Challenge title despite fierce competition from Ted Anthony Jr.
"We won the first race of the year, and then we struggled after that. After the Barber Motorsports Park and the 45th Anniversary of the Mustang, we took the car to the dyno and found that we were 12 horsepower down. We changed the motor, and once we did that, the rest of the season went great," said Caddell. "We won in New Jersey, we finished second at Laguna and then we finished the season off with another win. It was just a great year."
Record In Sight?
Brent Hajek and his Hajek Motorsports stable of '08 Cobra Jet Mustangs have made a significant impact at the dragstrips in 2009, including winning the season-opening NHRA Winternationals in the car's debut.
Hajek Motorsports also took an E-85 Mustang to Talladega earlier this year where Bill Elliott set a closed course speed record for an E-85 powered car.
Next up on the on the horizon for Hajek Motorsports, a land speed record attempt in an E-85 powered 2010 Mustang at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats.
— Ken Simmons
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