Nationwide Series Cars Unveiled

Sam HeganCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2009

It is now official, the smaller “Pony Cars,” as the automotive media refers to the smaller two-door sports coupes will be the basis of the new Nationwide COT. Ford announced the 2010 Mustang as the Ford representative to the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the 2010 season in their 7/28/2009 newsletter.

This is probably one of NASCAR’s better ideas amongst a host of bad ones. These production cars are all RWD (Rear Wheel Drive) and come equipped with the companies’ best performance engines. The Toyota version hasn’t been released so it is anyone’s guess as to what that car will be based on.

The Ford Mustang comes from the factory in many flavors. The GT comes with the 315 HP 4.6 L, 281 Cu. In., OHC (Overhead Cam) V8 engine and the more spirited Shelby 500KR comes with the supercharged 5.4 L, 330 Cu. In., OHC 540 HP versions.

The Mustang is one of Ford’s better selling vehicles and has been in production since 1964. It is considered the Father of the Pony Car and is the model the other manufacturers work hard to emulate.

The Chevrolet representative will be the just introduced Camaro. It comes from the factory with the fantastic OHV (Overhead Valve) 6.2 L, 376 Cu. In., LS3 V8 in the SS and the rumored Z/28 that would be equipped with a supercharged 6.2 L engine that would produce over 550 HP.

After an absence of 8 years the Camaro returns to production and has already won glorious accolades from the automotive media and from the new owners. With looks having vague styling cues of the 1969 model, it is an extremely handsome vehicle.

The Dodge representative will be the beautiful new Challenger. The R/T is equipped with the 5.7 L, 345 Cu. In. Hemi V8 producing 372 HP in the automatic or 376 HP in the manual transmission equipped vehicles. The more potent SRT8 is equipped with the 425 HP 6.1 L, Hemi is presently offered only with an automatic transmission.

Styling is reminiscent of the 1970 Challenger and the chassis is based off the larger Charger/Chrysler 300 LC platform. The production Challenger is the largest of the three models being used next season.

In a fantastic move, NASCAR is attempting to make the vehicles more closely resemble the production models. Ford Racing Communications Manager, Kevin Kennedy stated that the NASCAR Mustang would be more stock appearing than the Sprint Cup Fusion in an interview on Sirius Speedway this past Tuesday.

Brian Wolfe, Director of Ford North American Motorsports, again repeated this on the company newsletter yesterday, 7/28/2009. He said, “We had been talking with NASCAR for some time about Mustang as part of Ford’s vision for a “Muscle Car,” rollout for the Nationwide Series.”

The new cars will continue to have the current 110-inch wheelbase, but NASCAR says the similarity stops there. The final look of the car is still in the finalization stages, but Ford states that the COT Mustang will look very similar to the one just unveiled.

Such things as the new safety features from the Sprint Cup cars will be included in the new car. NASCAR is working to bring the initial cost down so the current chassis will most likely be used.

I personally can’t wait until these cars hit the track. The original idea was to introduce them in certain races this season, but because of late changes, the car will debut at Daytona in July next year. The COT will not be used in select races as the Cup COT was in 2007, but will become the standard car from the Daytona race on.

The future of the Nationwide Series looks great and with these changes might become very popular with the fans. The cars will closely resemble the actual showroom versions and be different enough from the Sprint Cup cars to make any comparison hard to make. I for one think this is a huge win for NASCAR and hope the trend moves them to change the current Cup cars.