No Mustang in the 2013 Daytona 500
by Patrick Rall
Last year, Ford Racing introduced the new Ford Mustang stock car body to the NASCAR Nationwide Series where it went head to head with the Dodge Challenger in a clash of the modern muscle cars. Ford used to adhere to the theory "race on Sunday, sell on Monday", but if you have watched a NASCAR Sprint Cup (formerly Winston Cup) recently, you have seen a Ford Fusion stock car that offers the form of a coupe - with rear wheel drive and a V8 - none of which are available in the consumer market.
So, Ford launched the Mustang stock car body for the Nationwide Series (the Saturday racers...formerly Busch Grand National) and according to Ford Racing head Jamie Allison, this move helped to bring in new enthusiasts to NASCAR. The Ford Mustang has a following like few other cars in the world, so it should come to no surprise that when the Mustang hit NASCAR, Mustang fans who previously didn't care about the NASCAR circuit started paying attention.
Based on this new influx of diehard Mustang fans to the NASCAR world, many expected to see the Mustang make the jump to the NASCAR "big leagues" - the Sprint Cup. This expectation was bolstered when Ford Racing submitted a new Mustang stock car body for the NASCAR Sprint Cup officials to go over in February for the 2013 season, creating visions of the mighty Ford Mustang rolling into victory lane at the Daytona 500, with the longest running performance car in America standing on one of the biggest stages in all of motorsports. Unfortunately for those hopefuls, earlier this month, Ford Racing announced that they would be sticking with the Ford Fusion for the 2013 NASCAR season.
Not only did Ford Racing announce that they would be sticking with the Ford Fusion stock car body for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, they also stated that they were working with some of the Ford factory backed Sprint Cup teams to develop the next generation of the Ford stock car - also expected to be based on the Fusion. Ford Racing stated that as the company's bestselling car, it is important to put the midsized sedan in front of the massive NASCAR crowd. The consumer-friendly Fusion sedan found in dealerships might be a far cry from the Fusion stock cars roaring across the television during a NASCAR race, but the automaker feels that putting their top vehicle in terms of sales in front of the biggest motorsports community is important in helping the Fusion to maintain its spot atop the bestselling cars in the American market.
The good news for Mustang enthusiasts who have gotten into NASCAR, Ford Racing plans to continue on with the Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the performance group from Ford Motor Company has not ruled out the Mustang for the Sprint Cup in the future - but in the meantime the only Ford's looking to take the checkered flag at the Great American Race will be rooting for their favorite driver in a Fusion.
What do you think? Obviously, it's a business decision, but does it make any sense to make the Fusion the face of Ford Racing instead of the Mustang? Voice your opinion here!