The Ford Mustang has led the pack of the Daytona 500 before, but only as a pace car. That will change on February 17, 2019, as the Mustang will make its Daytona 500 racing debut in the Monster Energy Cup Series, NASCAR’s premier league.
Mustangs have been used in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series since 2011, where it won manufacturer championships for Ford in six of the seven seasons it has competed. Mustang replaces the Fusion that had been used in the Monster Energy Cup Series and marks the first Ford coupe modified for use in the series since the Thunderbird.
Of course, it would be a stretch to say that those cars hitting 200 mph on superspeedways are modified production cars, as NASCAR racers use a tube chassis and suspensions that are far more primitive than a Mustang uses. They’re also powered by a pushrod V-8 and four-speed transmission, but when they can rev higher than a 5.0-liter Coyote and produce roughly twice the horsepower, we certainly won’t knock them.
The Mustang body planned for NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series use is still being tested and will be submitted for NASCAR approval later this year, so we’ll have to wait to get more than this teaser image. Ford didn’t specify which trim level it will use, but we’d speculate that it will be the upcoming GT500—it’ll be up against the NASCAR version of the Camaro ZL1, after all, which debuted at and won the Daytona 500 in 2018.
We hope that like the Chevy, the NASCAR Mustang will look like its namesake and keep the competition fierce.