Pony Wars, a competition build show where muscle cars go head-to-head to see which is a better all-around performer, has returned to the Horsepower Wars line-up for the second season with new cars, new teams, and new rules.
Using the closest matched models of each car – 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack, 2019 Camaro SS, and a 2019 Mustang GT Premium – each team received a $10,000 Summit Racing budget for “bolt-on” parts upgrades, plus a ProCharger supercharger kit, to dominate the dyno, drag strip, autocross, and braking challenge.
The baseline dyno numbers for all three cars were pretty close, but how will the cars perform after they are heavily modified?
Ron Mowen leads the Vengeance Racing Camaro team, Mike Copeland leads the Arrington Performance Challenger team, and Team FordNXT receives direction from X275 racer and two-time NMCA Champion James Lawrence.
Lawrence is a Ford guy with one of the fastest X275 Mustangs in the world and started the NMRA drag racing series.
In this article, we are going to take a look at the FordNXT build to see what parts are used on the 2019 Mustang GT for maximum performance and power.
In an effort to be named the Pony Wars 2 champion, FordNXT put their focus on suspension and handling – an entirely different strategy than the other two teams.
“The Mustang’s build vision from the beginning was different because we were the only team that had an engine that was capable of supporting high power levels,” the team said. FordNXT added that because the 2019 Coyote S550 long-block can handle big-time power, they were able to focus on the suspension and other elements of the build, rather than spend money, time, and effort on the engine internals.
Handling & Traction
Suspension on the Mustang consists of Steeda’s Pro Action adjustable shocks and struts (PN 555-8157), which were designed to reduce wheel hop, squat and body roll with its proprietary shock valving and adjustable rebound. From there, the Mustang has two spring setups: one for the drag race and one for autocross.
The Mustang GT Drag Springs (PN 555-8231) lower the front of the car 1.25-inches and lower the rear .5-inch. Using linear 150 lb/in front and 800 lb/in rear rates, the drag springs are designed to improve the weight transfer on launch but are still considered street driveable.
By contrast, the Ultimate Handling springs used for autocross (PN 555-8246) have a heavier dual spring rate design for improved handling and also remain usable for street driving. These are the springs proven in Steeda’s Q500 as well as NASA and SCCA competition Mustangs.
To reduce body roll and improve handling, the Mustang received adjustable 1 ⅜-inch front and 1 1/8-inch rear sway bars (PN 555-1017), and aluminum camber arms (PN 555-4123) with nylon coated spherical bearings to adjust the camber from minus 5 degrees to positive 2 degrees. The adjustability of both parts will allow them to change setups from the autocross to the drag strip easily.
Additionally, Lawrence upgraded the suspension with a Ford Performance knuckle to toe link bearing assembly (PN 161-M-5A460M), and he chose to upgrade the Mustang with billet vertical links (PN 555-4121), a differential mount bushing insert system (555-4443) and diff bushing hardware upgrade kit (555-4448) from Steeda.
Other Steeda suspension upgrades include a lateral link and bump steer kit (PN 555-4915) and S550 Mustang camber plates (PN 555 8139).
For traction, the FordNXT Mustang chose a set of Toyo Proxes RR 285/35/20 mounted on RTR 20×9.5 Charcoal Tech Mesh wheels, designed and developed by Vaughn Gittin Jr.
For the drag strip, the Mustang received a pair of Weld RT-S S71 wheels wrapped in Toyo Proxes TQ P315/35R17. The rear wheels, measuring 17×10 (PN 71LB7100A80F), feature a low pad design and 8-inch backspacing with a black finish and beadlocks. Meanwhile, the front wheels (PN 71HB8050A21A) were made to clear the Brembo brakes with 18×5 and a high pad, 2.10 inches of backspacing respectively.
Finally, the Mustang uses Hawk DTC-30 brake pads (PN HB774.650 front, PN HB802W.661 rear) composed of a multi-purpose compound for consistent and smooth braking and a smooth pedal feel. These are a more aggressive pad than you would typically run on the street, but the temperature range is still useful on an autocross course.
The rod and piston combination is one of the most notable features of the new Mustang when it comes to power. Like last year the team decided to rely on the OE components, which are forged from the factory. This means the 5.0-liter Coyote can make over 800-rwhp without any upgrades aside from a set of billet oil pump gears from Livernois (PN LPP701126), a Mishimoto 160-degree thermostat (PN MMTS-MUS8-11), and colder E3 spark plugs (PN E3.112).
“We have a lot of belief in the factory Coyote long-block. We felt like the gains from upgrading the Coyote’s durability were minor, and frankly, there isn’t enough value in porting heads or cams given the budget level we had to work with,” the team said.
Another unique feature of the Mustang engine is that it comes direct-injected with a secondary fueling system from the factory via multi-port injection. The team opted for a larger set of Fuel Injector Clinic (FIC) 1,000cc injectors (PN IS403-1000H) and a bigger in-tank setup from Team Beefcake Racing (PN BC-Level 2) since they are able to rely on the port injectors to supply additional fuel without additional upgrades to the DI pump and injectors. The fuel system took a large chunk of the budget, but was needed to keep both sets of fuel rails in ample supply and pressure.
“The toughest decision was figuring out which blower to go with considering the small displacement and the fuel’s octane,” the team said. FordNXT added that 95-octane versus 100 put the Coyote at a disadvantage compared to the LS.
“After talking to ProCharger and other top builders, there was a consensus that the P-1X was a better fit than the D-1X given the fuel, compression, and displacement. We felt like we could make 900 hp or more to the tires with the P-1X, and that the larger D-1X wouldn’t necessarily be an advantage as we aren’t going to be limited with boost at this octane level,” Team FordNXT said.
After the FordNXT team selected the P-1X from ProCharger, they opted for a Stage 2 intercooler and Race bypass valve. The only modification to the standard kit being a larger K&N intake filter to increase the air flow to the blower. On the track and dyno, the team would change between a range of pulleys from 3.40-inches to 4.25-inches as well as various tune-ups.
Carried over from its baseline modifications, the Mustang had long-tube headers with connection pipes (PN 16124) from Corsa, in addition to a Corsa Xtreme 3-inch Cat-Back Exhaust with Black Quad Tips (PN 14335BLK).
Other baseline modifications include E3 DiamondFIRE Racing Spark Plugs (PN E3.112) and Synthetic Motor Oil 10-W30 and 75-W90 Synthetic Gear Oil from Lucas.
With added power and torque, the drivetrain needed an upgrade in the axle and driveshaft to keep up with the added traction from the Toyo tires and Steeda suspension.
FordNXT decided to upgrade the driveline with GForce Engineering axles (PN FOR10107A) made from aerospace billet alloy, with 31-spline billet alloy CV joints for increased spline engagement, and the factory two-piece driveshaft has been replaced with a single piece aluminum driveshaft (PN FOR10209A) for dependability.
Soon we will find out if Team FordNXT and their ProCharged Mustang GT can take home the victory. All three cars are locked and loaded for battle but who will come out on top in Pony Wars 2 as the champion? We will have to wait and see.