Ford Mustang Dark Horse to make 2024 NASCAR Cup Series debut

Ford's Mustang Dark Horse debuts at the Clash next February 4th - Ford Performance photo
Ford’s Mustang Cup Series Dark Horse debuts at the Clash next February 4th – Ford Performance photo

Ford Performance has taken the wraps off its 2024 NASCAR Cup Series challenger: its teams and drivers will be competing in the new Mustang Dark Horse coupe, as the United States’ top closed-wheel racing series joins sanctions on five other continents that race Mustang cars.

With six of seven continents in the world competing using Ford Mustangs – and with NASCAR’s premier Cup Series Ford Mustang teams intending to vanquish comers from both Chevrolet and Toyota – Ford has added the Mustang Dark Horse to its stable of “pony cars’ competing around the world

Based on the seventh generation of the two-door coupe that initially debuted in 1963 as a 1964 street model, the Mustang Dark Horse will debut during the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in early February.

“What a crazy year it has been revealing our new global Mustangs for racing,” noted Mark Rushbrook, global director for Ford Performance Motorsports. “The positive response from our fans around the world has been amazing, and we’re confident that this Mustang Dark Horse [NASCAR] Cup Series car will be no different. NASCAR fans will be excited to cheer us on next year,” he said.

Both Ford Performance’s engineering staff and dedicated Ford Cup Series teams have worked together to use wind tunnel testing in developing this car for racing purposes. “I can’t wait to finally see it race on the track next season,” Rushbrook declared.

Ford Mustang Dark Horse tested at Daytona International Speedway – Ford Performance photo

The Ford Mustang Dark Horse, introduced a little more than a year ago, is the first performance-based nameplate for Mustang in almost 25 years, as the most recent high performance offering came in 2001! The Mustang Dark Horse offers the most track-capable 5.0-liter V8 street-legal Mustang ever produced; it has inspired the current crop of racing Mustang models in Australia’s Repco Supercars Championship and in the Formula Drift series in the United States, where Chelsea DeNofa took the title in his final Formula Drift season, driving a Dark Horse Mustang campaigned by Team RTR.

Going forward, Mustang Dark Horse racing variants will be eligible to compete in both GT3 and GT4 classes globally as well as competing in the Mustang Challenge Series as a Dark Horse R, together with the availability for many grassroots racing contests.

Brad Keselowski, driver and co-owner of Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing (RFK) is keen to try his hand with this new racecar: “If she gallops as fast as she looks, it’s going to be a good year.” After getting his first glimpse of the new NASCAR Cup Series Mustang he declared, “Mustang is an iconic American car made famous around the world. I think of how Mustang has evolved over the years and how NASCAR has evolved with it. They’re just two brands that go together. I’m proud to get to drive it and proud to be able to compete for the win in this car.”

The Ford Mustang model first debuted full-time in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series in 2011 and produced immediate championships in consecutive seasons. Overall, Mustang has won a driver’s or owner’s championship in nine of 12 season it’s competed in the Xfinity Series, as well as capturing manufacturer’s championships in both 2011 and 2013.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, in the hunt for his first NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, is excited about the prospect of racing this new Mustang Dark Horse. “I’m really pumped,” he said, “because Ford did an amazing job with it. I can’t wait for this [car] to debut and [to] drive it next year at the Coliseum. Hopefully,” Blaney mused, “I can be the one to get the first win. That would be a cool accomplishment.”

Ford Mustang Dark Horse exits the pits – Ford Performance photo

Ford’s Mustang has been a Cup Series combatant since 2019 and, since that time has secured a manufacturer’s title as the marque won 18 races in 2020. Joey Logano earned the driver’s championship in 2022 for Team Penske and Ford, while Mustang has earned victories in several milestone Cup Series races: the Daytona 500, which it has twice won, the Southern 500 and the Brickyard 400. Ford’s Mustang captured the inaugural Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum in the 2022 debut of NASCAR’s current Next Gen Cup Series cars.

Reigning Cup Series champion Logano, upon seeing the new Mustang Dark Horse for the first time said, “What I’ve learned over the years is every car looks good in Victory Lane, but if it looks this mean just sitting here, it’ll look even better in Victory Lane!”

About Anne Proffit 1246 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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