On Tuesday Ford became the first of the four manufacturers in NASCAR to unveil its 2013 Sprint Cup car as part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour, with the new Fusion the basis for its attack on the Sprint Cup. The new car design mirrors the recently released prototype for the 2013 Fusion production car, and is indicative of the dawning of a new era in NASCAR, one of increased manufacture involvement and emphasis on brand identity.
“We wanted Fusion to be the car that helped return ‘stock car’ to NASCAR,” said the director of Ford Racing Jamie Allison. “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 because there is just something natural about seeing race cars that look like cars in their driveways.
“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.”
“We went away from true stock car racing and got to a point where the cars we’re racing in Sprint Cup were very vanilla,” added Bernie Marcus, Ford Racing’s senior aerodynamicist.
“Moving forward, we have a lot more brand identity; we have a lot more character lines in everybody’s car, so I think you’ll be able to differentiate them a lot more. I think it will appease the race fans and it will give the sport an upturn because now the term ‘stock car’ racing actually means something again.”
The new car will make its competitive debut at the 2013 Daytona 500, and will undergo rigorous testing throughout 2012. Its design team, led by Garen Nicoghosian, are thrilled with their final product.
“It looks fun to drive and very much eager to go and tear up the track. It has a very aggressive stance. From all angles the vehicle exudes performance and I think it reflects our general attitude of how we go about designing our production cars very, very nicely,” said Nicoghosian.
“It brings a certain level of nimbleness and lightness and agility to the NASCAR platform. Our production cars have that nimbleness and agility and eagerness about them as well.”
“I don’t think we could do any better. With help from guys like Garen and the whole design community, every time we went in there they shaped that car a little better,” said Andy Slankard, NASCAR Operations Manager for Ford Racing. “You can’t imagine the talent these guys have and how they’re able to make that car look so good. I think this is a nice sporty version of the Fusion, and a lot of people will be excited about it.”
“I am most proud that it looks like the 2013 Fusion, plain and simple. I think this will bring back the fans to NASCAR,” agreed Pat DiMarco, Ford Racing NASCAR program manager. “A lot of people have said the cars all look the same and they can’t tell the difference. There is very little brand identity in the sport right now. In 2013, they will not be able to say that.”
The sentiment was shared by reigning Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne, who expressed his excitement about seeing the new car in action.
“The coolest thing about it to me is that the Fusion looks like you just took that production version and put a race kit on it,” Bayne said.
“It seems like you put a Roush package on it or something like that and that’s what is so awesome about what they’ve done here. I’ve heard about the Win on Sunday and Buy on Monday, and I think that could come back. I’ve been excited to tell my friends about this. I’m 20 years old so this is more of my generation here, but I’m just happy that now I can show them pictures and I think they’ll be excited about it.”