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And Heeere's the 2013 NASCAR stocker. Score one for Ford!

 Ford's new 2013 NASCAR stockers. Greg Biffle (white) and Ricky Stenhouse (black) (Photo: Autostock)

   By Mike Mulhern


   Ford scored a marketing coup Tuesday, and moved to put some buzz in the air here during Day Two of the annual preseason Charlotte Media Tour, as the first car maker to debut its new 2013 NASCAR stocker and put it out on the track.
   Two, in fact, with Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse turning laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
   Rivals may be a bit miffed at the one-upsmanship. But, hey, that's racing.

   All four 2013 models are scheduled to be tested at Homestead-Miami Speedway February 1st…in a test that will apparently be closed – perhaps an unusual way to market the NASCAR buzz. That may be the first time crewmen get to see all four models.
   Why is NASCAR, and its big marketing operation, taking such seemingly a low-keyed approach? Apparently because the sanctioning body has not yet 'aero-matched' the four models in the wind tunnel.
   Of course it may seem a bit incongruous to debut a 2013 racer like this even before the 2012 season kicks off. (Indeed there has been some push for NASCAR to start racing the new models during the 2012 season, in order to add some sorely needed buzz for this sport.)
   Ford is billing its new model as a Fusion (not Mustang, as once planned), and when the car maker officially unveiled its 2013 street version, it was then free to take the wraps off the NASCAR version – which is decidedly different from the current Sprint Cup model, the still controversial and not greatly liked by many car-of-tomorrow.
   Chevrolet, for example, still hasn't officially named its model for its 2013 NASCAR Cup racer.

   Smile! The new NASCAR Ford....but not in action for real until 2013 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   When the COT hit the tracks in 2007, it was roundly criticized as hard to drive and not particularly pretty. And it was a common template race car, meaning in primer a Ford was virtually indistinguishable from a Chevy, Toyota and Dodge. (Of course one reason for the COT common template concept was to allow new car makers to join the sport.)
   Last spring, however, NASCAR executives finally yielded to complaints from Detroit that the COTs had very few design characteristics in common with street cars.
   At Tuesday's debut Ford execs boasted proudly of the numerous design characteristics in common with its street Fusion.
  Jamie Allison, Ford's NASCAR racing director, was downright jubilant over Tuesday's debut, putting two of the 2013s side by side around this 1.5-mile speedway. "This is literally the first time these 2013 cars have been on the track. So a lot is yet to be developed and to be learned through on-track testing and wind tunnel testing."
    All four manufacturers are somehow working together on this project, a little bit at least, to try to ensure parity. "The intent is to maintain the competitive level that exists today….and the computer modeling indicates that is where we are at, in drag, downforce and sideforces," Allison went on.
   Of course NASCAR officials have yet to weigh in on much of this. NASCAR president Mike Helton was here for Tuesday's unveiling but left quickly afterwards before he could be interviewed about the entire 2013 car project.
   During the Ford presentation, photos of classic NASCAR Fords from the past were shown….and the 2013 car is certainly much more a race car than, say, Fred Lorenzen's Ford Galaxies of the 1960s, which of course were much more based on street models.
   Still the 2013 project does seem to be a move in the right direction.

    Robbie Reiser, the championship crew chief back when, and now GM for Ford's Jack Roush (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Robbie Reiser, general manager for Jack Roush's Ford operation, was effusive: "I look at this new car and say 'Now that's a race car.'
   "Everyone has recognized that the car we're currently running is not well received. And they've come back with this car. This looks like what I used to race in Late Models; it has the things that make a race car appealing.
   "You're really going to be excited. The fans are going to be excited. Remember when we all used to talk about Monte Carlo and the Thunderbird, they all had character to them. This new car has character; it's not an IROC looking car."
  And when does the public actually get to see all four of these 2013s side by side?
  Well, that's up in the air. Toyota is looking at unveiling its version during SpeedWeeks, but Chevrolet and Dodge have said nothing.
  And there is word that NASCAR executives would like the four car makers to keep the bickering – once such a fan-pleasing staple in this sport – to a minimum.
   Reiser laughs and says good luck: "As long you have competition, everyone is going to complain. And I think this will bring back some of the old fun – Ford versus Chevy and all. For fans who are true-blue Ford fans or Chevy fans, it's going to put some fun back in it. And I think that's what everyone really wants to do."


Ford's Jamie Roush -- naturally caffinated? He's certainly pumped up over the 2013 Ford (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


  So how to describe the differences between the current 2012 NASCAR Ford and the 2013? The Woods had one of theirs on the grid next to the two 2013s, and the differences were striking.
   "We have a little longer overhang in the front, and yet the overhang isn't too obtrusive," Allison says.
   "This looks likes a sports sedan, if you look at the proportions. Look at the rake angle of the roof; look at the design elements."
   In fact some are pointing out similarities between the new Ford and the Aston Martin DB9; Ford owns part of the Aston Martin company.
   How close is this version to what NASCAR will ultimately allow? "What you are seeing is the eventual race car," Allison says. "These are the elements allowed within NASCAR's parameters. Our car will look different from a Dodge, different from a Toyota, different from a Chevy.
   "This looks like a race car and a street car.
   "I grew up watching Bill Elliott race those Thunderbirds in the 1980s, and you knew those were Thunderbirds.
   "It may sound like a cliché, but this car will bring the 'stock' back to stock car racing."
   Well, to a point.  
  Ford's Garen Nicoghosian, design manager for specialty vehicles, says the differences between the 2012 NASCAR Ford and the 2013 "are day and night."
   But he points out "The design is not a duplicate of the street car; it is to capture the essence of it. The only line on the race car that is identical to the street car is the 'bone line' (along the sides, just below the windows)."
   This whole project started last year around Daytona SpeedWeeks, and Ford put it on the fast-track in March.
   "We just kept working on it, first to make sure it works (as a race car), and also for the overall look."
   After the Homestead test, Nicoghosian says "work will begin in earnest…and we have a lot of work to do.
   "But these two here are race-ready cars right now; we can run them as fast as we dare. But these are also our show cars, so you break it you buy it."
   Of course there is more on the technical side of NASCAR things here this week than just the 2013s. There is the new fuel injection system, which will almost certainly invoke the law of unintended consequences.
   On top of those yet-to-be-seen problems with EFI, and those complicated computer management programs, Roush says the engine changeover will cost him at least $3 million this season, $1 million in added costs per team.
   The new EFI systems too will put a premium on Detroit engineering involvement, spreading the already sizeable gap between the sport's big teams and the few remaining independent teams, like Robby Gordon's.
   However, NASCAR executives over the past year or so have appeared increasingly willing to compromise on issues with teams and with Detroit.
   "NASCAR has shown a willingness to listen and to act," Allison says. "It's a 'new order,' and we are very pleased with the new order in NASCAR."

NASCAR president Mike Helton: he made it official, but didn't stick around for questions (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



New Cars Plus!

I'm not a "Ford Person" but, that new Focus looks great. I hope the other manufacturers do just as good.
Next on the menu, get rid of Nascar Springs and Shocks. put the performance back in the hands of the team.
Next get rid of Green, White Checker and double file restart. and let the racing resume.
Next Change some of those mile and half tracks to 1 mile or 3/4's
And Last but not least, add a couple of dirt tracks and race them in the middle of the week.
P.S. We all know this won't happen. We can still dream can't we?

What Is Ford So Boastful About?

This 2013 Fusion is the same as the ones being run now, and it's still a common template car - common templates are not going away. The other brands are not going to look different because they can't - apart from common templates the reality is Form Follows Function.

During the Ford presentation,

During the Ford presentation, photos of classic NASCAR Fords from the past were shown….and the 2013 car is certainly much more a race car than, say, Fred Lorenzen's Ford Galaxies of the 1960s, which of course were much more based on street models.


I'd rather see those longer wheelbase big block monsters running around in circles than these sissyfied wussy mobiles they got running around now!

That Ford looks a whole lot better... I'm looking forward to seeing what the other companies bring out.


2013 race car

Has Gov.Motors ok'ed the 2013 ford if not its back to the drawing board for FORD if GM does not OK the car it wont race without there ok.

2013 Cup Cars

Chevy will race the Malibu

There are many former fans,

There are many former fans, such as myself, who began to lose interest in this sport when NASCAR thought it had a better idea by reducing the sport to an IMSA-style "spec" series.

When the only thing that differentiates a "Fusion" from an "Impala" or a "Camry" or a "Charger" is a handful of headlight, taillight, and grille decals (and minor rear-corner window sheetmetal)then my interest in following the sport falls off a cliff.

The first iteration of a COT vehicle was, in plain english, a dog's breakfast. I applaud the safety elements that the new design incorporated because the accidents that we have seen take place with minimal impact upon the drivers is a testament to common-sense having been applied, but the "visuals?...U-G-L-Y. Now that there seems to be a glimmer of hope that the cars hitting the tracks next year might actually resemble the street versions has caused me to exercise a measure of my good faith: yesterday, I bought a pair of tickets to the July race at Loudon.

The ball is in NASCAR's court. Don't drop it again, or you will continue to see MANY empty seats at most of the races.

The design does not repeat

The design does not repeat the street car, it is to capture its essence. The only racing on the same street car line is the "bone line (along the sides, just below the window).

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