CUP: Penske Teams Hope New Nose Helps

When Kurt Busch showed off his new Shell/Pennzoil No. 22 paint scheme Thursday night, he also showed off something else – the new front nose of the Dodge Charger car that will be used in Sprint Cup competition in 2011.

While Chevrolet and Toyota just took the standard NASCAR changes for the front end of their entries, Dodge and Ford made slight modifications to the nose of their respective cars.

All of the cars will now have molded splitters bolted to the bottom of the front bumpers. There will be no more need for the splitter braces that the Cup cars have had since the new car was introduced in 2007.

“It got rid of those splitter stay bars – that looked awful in my mind,” Busch said following the unveiling at Penske’s Ferrari dealership at the Wynn Las Vegas. “It looks more like a car that you would want to drive. With the Dodge branding, it’s exciting for us. … The look of it gives it a more faster look and a more appealing look.”

With the splitter change and the lower part of the bumper being pushed slightly forward, there will be less air in the lower part of the front bumper. Busch said hopes the changes will limit the damage that result from spins such as the one Denny Hamlin had in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Teams will continue to work on getting the splitter as close to the racing surface as possible without rubbing the surface, Busch said. Whether that will be easier or more difficult come Daytona next February remains to be seen.

“I’ve heard two different numbers with the wind tunnel so far,” Busch said. “We have yet to zero in how big of a difference it’s going to make.”

Team owner Roger Penske thinks his teams have struggled with the splitter and is looking for the change to improve the team’s performance.

“It’s terrific. Hopefully it will take away some of the sensitivity we’ve had with the splitter,” Penske said. “You talk about splitters and them hitting the ground. To me, this is similar to what we have on the Challenger, the car we [now] run in Nationwide. Hopefully it will give us some direction. And the car looks better.” • With no primary sponsor for 2011, Sam Hornish Jr. might end up in Daytona 500 and Indy 500