Ford Racing were today busy showing off their new Ford Fusion Sprint Cup car, which will begin racing in the 2013 season. The official unveiling came on the the second day of NASCAR pre-season media activity at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
"We wanted Fusion to be the car that helped return 'stock car' to NASCAR," said the director of Ford Racing, Jamie Allison.
The 2013 Fusion Sprint Cup car has a dramatically restyled and streamlined profile, in an attempt to bring back individual manufacturer brands to the look and feel of NASCAR stock cars.
The proportions of the race car reflect those found on the production model of the Ford Fusion and to bring in unmistakable Ford stylings in the front grill and the sides of the car, although underneath the body the engine and chassis will be strictly in accordance with NASCAR regulations.
The redesigned 2013 Fusion production car was formally unveiled two weeks ago at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, and goes on sale later this year.
"It looks fun to drive and very much eager to go and tear up the track. It has a very aggressive stance from the outside and the inside. From all angles the vehicle exudes performance," said Garen Nicoghosian, the project team leader at the Ford Design Center. "It brings a certain level of nimbleness and lightness and agility to the NASCAR platform."
Ford also wants to bring the sport closer to the types of everyday cars seen on the roads rather than the highly specialised but somewhat ungainly Car of Tomorrow "spec" stock car that has featured in the sport since it was introduced in 2007.
"There is just something natural about seeing race cars that look like cars in their driveways," said Allison. "This is a seminal moment in the sport where we had a chance to get it right once again and make sure the race cars are race versions of street cars. And I am proud because I believe we have accomplished just that."
"I think fans, when they see the car, are just going to smile and cheer. It is going to reengage them with the sport and make the sport better," added Allison. "The 2013 Fusion is a stunning car and the 2013 NASCAR Fusion is even more stunning and I can't wait to see it perform on the track and connect with race fans."
Ford is the first of four manufacturers in NASCAR Sprint Cup to unveil its vision of Sprint Cup for the future. Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota are also hard at work on their own prototypes, with Chevrolet saying that their focus is on biofuels and other cost-reduction technologies.
"We want to use relevant technologies that don't push the costs up so high that it's unaffordable. Then we want the vehicle to be distinctive in a way that it can be associated with us," Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's US vice president for performance vehicles and motorsports, said last week. "Then we want the vehicle to be distinctive in a way that it can be associated with us ... For NASCAR, the car on the tracks looks like the car we sell."
The new Sprint Cup Ford Fusion will undergo testing throughout 2012 ahead of its racing debut at the 2013 Daytona 500 in a year's time. Except for the NASCAR-directed regulation alterations intended to break up the two-car tandem drafts at Daytona and Talladega, there are no significant changes in the car specifications for the 2012 season.