Dick Johnson Racing could return as an ‘official’ Ford outfit next year, if the iconic team is successful in its current bid to lure financial support from the blue oval.
Johnson’s team was dumped by Ford this year after the company decided to focus its racing funds on Ford Performance Racing and Stone Brothers Racing.
This year marked the first time in nearly 30 years that Johnson did not enjoy financial backing from the Ford factory.
While the Jim Beam-supported team receives a parts alliance, the absence of official factory backing is evident in the fact that the only ‘Ford’ logo on the cars this year is the badge on the grill.
DJR is expected to expand to three cars next year, making room for an extra Championship Series entry for Jonathon Webb (pending tomorrow’s V8 Supercars Australia board meeting). If the Webb/third car deal is successful, and depending where other entries fall, DJR is likely to field up to a third of Ford’s representation on next year’s grid.
Team co-owner Charlie Schwerkolt told Speedcafe that Ford has been very receptive to discussions and that a final deal may not be too far away.
“We’ve been in discussions with Ford, and having some very good discussions,” he said.
“We’ve got a good relationship with Ford, and we’d like to improve on that through funding and support.”
Schwerkolt said he’d like to have an answer on the deal as soon as possible.
“I’m hoping to wrap it up by the end of the month,” he said.
“I think we’re a good chance. We’ve been working very well together, very closely. I’m positive and hopeful that our relationship can continue to grow as Dick Johnson Racing continues to grow.”
Jim Beam Racing has enjoyed a return to form this year, with James Courtney taking a race win in Townsville, and Steve Johnson currently sitting a competitive sixth in the driver’s championship – and the fourth Ford.
In terms of factory backing, the number of Fords on next year’s grid is something that might play into DJR’s hands.
“It will be tough, but we’ve got good cars,” Schwerkolt said.
“The Triple Eight Fords are very good and yeah, we’re going to be independent, but that’s not going to hurt us. We’ve got some good people working for DJR and we’re doing all our R&D in house, so we’re still going to be a good force to be reckoned with.”