‘Back To The Future’ 2013 NASCAR Vehicles A Step In The Right Direction

Charlotte, NC (January 30, 2012) – While the vast majority of NASCAR racers and fans have their eyes firmly set on the opening of the 2012 season at Daytona International Speedway in less than a month, some will have their sights locked in on a test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway later this week.

That’s when all four manufacturers – Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge and Toyota – will unveil their 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries. That’s right, next year’s car.

At present, not much is known about the new cars. NASCAR has been pretty tight lipped about the new vehicles and until last week – when Ford introduced its new 2013 Fusion – the manufacturers had been holding their cards pretty close as well.

To say the Fusion is a sweet looking racecar is an understatement. More importantly, a closer look shows it actually resembles the new Fusion production model. The new styling is a direct result of NASCAR and the car companies trying to connect the product with the fans – something recent generations of NASCAR vehicles have had trouble doing.

These recent models have taken the sport farther from its core than ever before. Fans, who long identified themselves as Chevy, Ford or MoPar supporters, haven’t had a much of a choice lately as NASCAR iron morphed into nearly identical purpose-built racers. Consequently, one of the basic precepts of the sport – that a regular guy could see the same car he drives win on Sunday – no longer existed.

That not only destroyed a huge fan rivalry component of the sport, but also has given the manufacturers pause to reconsider their technical and financial stake in NASCAR.

To their credit, NASCAR has responded with changes. The new fuel injection system NASCAR has implemented for the 2012 is a quantum leap forward in bringing its racecars into the new millennium. The new bodies – while not as technologically important – will give the appearance the cars that compete in NASCAR events are at least similar to the one fans have parked in their driveways.

The new changes still won’t confuse anyone. NASCAR’s ‘Strictly Stock’ days is a ship that sailed 50 years ago with the introduction of a boxed frame construction chassis and heavy-duty, race-inspired bolt on performance and safety parts.

But if Ford’s new ‘back to the future’ 2013 Fusion model is any indication of the direction NASCAR is headed, the fans are going to like these changes and like them a lot.

We know we do.

No More Double-Secret Probation

Bluto, Otter, Pinto and the rest of the Deltas will know exactly where they stand this year after NASCAR stated last week that it will no longer secretly fine its teams and drivers.

NASCAR made the announcement in a prepared statement (what, no visit from Dean Wormer?) last week that moving forward all fines will be made public. Last year, NASCAR came under some serious media heat when Brad Keselowski (Pinto) was docked $25,000 behind closed doors for publicly bagging on NASCAR’s new fuel injection system.

The previous season, Denny Hamlin’s (Otter) wallet was secretly trimmed by the sanctioning body for blowing up Twitter with the suggestion that NASCAR wasn’t exactly on the up and up when it came to throwing the yellow flag – especially late in the race.

Ryan Newman (Bluto) was also squeezed for a couple of extra six packs in private by NASCAR in 2010 when he didn’t make nice in the media in his post-race comments about an event at Talladega.

“NASCAR will no longer issue fines that are undisclosed,” stated NASCAR last week. “We looked at this issue from every angle and gathered feedback from the industry. While there are always sensitivities related to sponsor relationships and other leagues may continue issuing disclosed and undisclosed fines, NASCAR has decided that all fines moving forward will be made public after the competitor or organization that has been penalized has been informed.”

We’re thrilled NASCAR has abandoned this “Double-Secret Probation” policy. If NASCAR’s mission is to protect the integrity of the sport as CEO Brian France has stated, keeping things public and above board at the corporate sanctioning body level will go a long way in achieving that.

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