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One of the frequently-heard complaints about NASCAR’s “car of tomorrow” is that they all look alike. Even the fake headlights and grilles don’t look anything like the production versions the cars are allegedly based on, but that’s about to change for the 2013 season.
Ford has already introduced its Fusion-based NASCAR Sprint Cup Car, as have Toyota (the Camry) and Dodge (the Charger). Sadly, Dodge pulled out of competition at the end of the 2012 season, as long-term partner Penske Racing will switch to running Fords in 2013.
That leaves Chevy as the sole hold out, as it planned on introducing a 2013 Sprint Cup car based on the upcoming SS sedan instead of the Impala, which was the model for the 2012 Sprint Cup racer. Today, Chevy's new NASCAR entry was unveiled by GM North America president Mark Reuss and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
Reuss was quick to point out that the 2014 Chevy SS will put the “stock” back in stock car racing, since both the race car and the production car will get V-8 power and a front-engine, rear-drive layout. The SS and its Australian equivalent, the Holden Commodore, will make their production-form debut during Speed Week in Daytona Beach, Florida, in February 2013.
Ironically, that means Chevy’s new race car premiers months before the street versions make their appearance.
Though the new Sprint Cup cars may look quite a bit more like their production counterparts, the resemblance is only skin-deep. All NASCAR Sprint Cup cars rely on a tube frame chassis and a front-engine, rear-drive layout. All use fuel-injected V-8 engines, too, good for about 750 horsepower.
Last we checked, the biggest engine you could get in a Toyota Camry was a V-6, while the Ford Fusion now offers a turbocharged four-cylinder as its strongest powerplant. Both are front-wheel-drive, too, meaning that Chevy’s SS-based Sprint Cup car is indeed the closest to “stock,” as Reuss points out.
On the plus side, at least the cars will look different in 2013, and NASCAR is hoping that translates to a renewed interest in the series and more bodies in the seats. We’ll know when the season kicks off with the Daytona 500, scheduled for February 24, 2013.