Ford and Chevy have plenty of ground to make up this season if they intend to catch up to Toyota, and the Japanese manufacturer dominated the last half of the 2017 season.
Toyota drivers won 14 of the last 19 races, and Martin Truex Jr. won the championship in his No. 78 Toyota from Furniture Row Racing. Chevy is unveiling the new Camaro ZL1 in an attempt to catch Toyota, but Ford doesn't have plans for a new model for this season.
Instead, Ford is relying on the new inspection process. The new protocol, known as the Hawkeye system, is expected to inspect and analyze each car more closely than ever before. It uses a camera-based system, and it has a laser inspection station and template module station.
"If the new Hawkeye system is put in place and implemented for 2018 fully, not partially, fully, it would certainly level the playing field for Ford by enforcing the rules,'' said Brad Keselowski according to NBC Sports.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. agreed and said it could erase some of the deficit.
"You just have to play the cards you're dealt and we'll see how that goes,'" Stenhouse said. "I think the Hawkeye system could maybe cut some deficit down for us that Toyota had built into their cars based off the old inspection system. We'll just see how it goes."
Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick have expressed similar concerns, but they are both optimistic their teams and Ford will figure out a solution for the 2018 season and beyond.
Ford had two drivers in the Championship 4 in Harvick and Keselowski -- just as many as Toyota -- but the Ford drivers weren't particularly close to winning the title. Now, they're playing catchup, and they're hoping the new Hawkeye system works in their favor.