Ford has spent a good deal of time touting the overall efficiency of its new 2011 Mustang V6, which recently became the first production car to earn 30-mpg EPA highway ratings with an engine than delivers over 300 horsepower. The automaker's latest endeavor in that arena came this week in the form of a mileage-maxing "Mustang 1000 Lap Challenge" held on the .533-mile high-banked oval at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Five drivers -- four Mustang engineers as well as NASCAR Sprint Cup shoe, David Ragan, whose regular ride is the Roush Fenway Racing UPS Ford Fusion -- rotated through one-hour stints during the course of this marathon run. At the end of a very long but resoundingly successful day, the Challenge Mustang fitted with its standard 3.7-liter/305-horse V6 engine and six-speed manual transmission not only met but totally obliterated the original 1000-lap/533-mile bogey, turning 1,457 laps and 776.5 miles before finally running out of fuel after 17 hours and 40 minutes. By way of comparison, that distance exceeds the combined mileage of both NASCAR Sprint Cup events held each year at this fabled Tennessee track.
Although Bristol is widely recognized as being the world's fastest half-mile, the Mustang 1000 Lap Challenge record run went into the books at a fairly leisurely 43.9 mph pace. However, the disciplined and consistent driving techniques employed by the Challenge team members, comprised of Ragan along with Tom Barnes, Jonathan Mehl, Carl Ek, and Seong Park, also netted a stellar economy mark of 48.5 mpg. "This is beyond our wildest dreams," said Barnes, lead engineer on the program. "It was great when we went past the 1,000-lap mark with David, but nobody could ever imagine that we still had five hours ahead of us."