TALLADEGA, Ala. — Whether you care for a Camry, flip out for a Fusion, or seek out an SS, there will be something new for everybody in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
NASCAR is taking steps to make the race cars look more like the ones fans drive to the track or see on their morning commute, and Wednesday, Talladega Superspeedway hosted a test of the new body styles.
NASCAR officials, who also analyzed engine restrictor plates and drafting performance, were pleased with the early results.
“With a different car, we’ll look at what it’s going to take for [restrictor] plate size and some other things, but the main concern is how the cars draft, how they react in the draft, and obviously to get more one-on-one racing,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “All of the input that we have from the drivers and the teams so far has been pretty good.”
The series’ automakers, which have worked extensively with NASCAR to bring the new NASCAR Sprint Cup car to life, were well-represented at the 2.66-mile track:
· Chevrolet, which will run the 2013 SS model, was supported by Richard Childress Racing’s Jeff Burton, Hendrick Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s Juan Pablo Montoya.
· Ford, which will field an all-new Fusion next season, was represented by Penske Racing’s Sam Hornish Jr. and Roush Fenway Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
· Toyota was represented by Joey Logano driving the 2013 Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing and Brian Vickers at the wheel for Michael Waltrip Racing.
If the testing was indicative of how next year’s racing will go, look for no shortage of excitement. Stenhouse, who will drive the No. 17 Ford Fusion for Roush Racing next year, said, “It seemed pretty racy out there when we got in the seven-car packs. The two-car tandem could catch the group, then kind of stall out, and a single car could run right there with them.”
Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, agreed with Stenhouse, “We had five or six cars out there, and it was actually pretty dicey and pretty exciting. “
Kahne also liked the appearance of the new car.
“I think the cars are unique because they look different. They have a fresh look , and it resembles the manufacturer’s car, which is great for the fans, who ought to be able to go out and buy a similar car.”
Grant Lynch, track chairman, said the new-car testing was an added bonus for the fans. “It was great having something on Wednesday for the fans,” Lynch said. “Our fans start coming in on Monday, so giving them a peek at the future was one way of rewarding their devotion.”