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What is the Sixth Generation NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Car?

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Brad Keselowski's 2013 Sixth Generation NASCAR Sprint Cup Ford Fusion

Brad Keselowski's 2013 Sixth Generation NASCAR Sprint Cup Ford Fusion During a Recent Test Session

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

2013 Brings a New Sprint Cup Car to the Track:

If you attended a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in the last few years you might have had a difficult time telling the manufacturers apart. The Chevrolets, Fords and Toyotas all looked pretty much the same with only the headlights, taillights and grills helping to tell them apart.

Starting with the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season NASCAR will be forcing teams to change to the new sixth generation race car which now carry much more unique manufacturer branding. The new, smaller, safer cars contain many new features for teams, drivers and especially the fans.

The Previous Generation of Race Car:

In 2007 NASCAR introduced the "Car of Tomorrow" into competition. The Car of Tomorrow ran a partial schedule in 2007 and was introduced full-time in 2008.

That redesign had a three-prong focus. The Car of Tomorrow was intended to improve:

  1. Safety
  2. Competition
  3. Cost Effectiveness
There were numerous improvements in safety including a larger driver's compartment and the seat was moved towards the center of the car to increase the crumple zone.

The cars were designed to be less aerodynamic with the goal of improving competition. The larger hole that the CoT punched in the air the less likely that drivers would experience "aero push" which plagued the fourth generation cars.

Finally, a big win for the teams was that the cars were designed to use the same frame, roll cage and body for all different race track types. This reduced the specialization from track to track and saved teams a fair amount of money on different cars.

Five Car of Tomorrow Championships:

Although Kyle Busch won the first ever Car of Tomorrow race he was not one of the three different NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers won the championship during the Car of Tomorrow era.

The Main Features of the Sixth Generation Race Car:

  • Focus on return to showroom looks
  • No numbers or sponsor decals allowed on the headlights
  • Noticeably shorter trunk better matches production vehicle contours
  • Car lines designed to match street vehicles and not a "Common Template"
  • Driver's name featured on the windshield
  • Overall car size slightly smaller than previous generation
  • Taller, contoured spoiler
  • Carbon fiber hood and decklid
  • Continued safety improvements

New Car Puts Fans First:

One of the things that NASCAR heard most often about the Car of Tomorrow was that virtually all of the brand identity of the cars had been lost. The old adage "what wins on Sunday sells on Monday" seemed to be forgotten as the fans in the stands had to be told what kind of car was in Victory Lane.

Brand Identity is Key

With the introduction of the sixth generation NASCAR Sprint Cup race car NASCAR has worked closely with the manufacturers to bring brand identity back to the sport. This has resulted in Fords that look like Fords, Chevrolets that look like Chevrolets and Toyotas that look like Toyotas.

Chevrolet is going the extra mile to address another concern of many race fans. The cars on the track not only didn't look like what they could find in the showroom but they also didn't exist in rear wheel drive.

Starting in 2013 Chevrolet is going to introduce a street version of the Chevrolet SS which will be rear-wheel drive and feature a V8 engine just like its NASCAR cousin.

Who is That Again?

Another crowd-pleasing feature of the new Sprint Cup race car is the addition of the driver's last name to the windshield. While most fans know who is driving the top cars it can be difficult to remember who is driving which car on any given Sunday.

The addition of the names will help new fans learn their way around the sport more quickly and will help even veteran race fans identify the less popular drivers more easily. This is a great cosmetic change which is inexpensive for the teams but has real benefit for fans.

But How Will it Race?

Overall I'm excited for the new look but very curious about how the new body shape and aerodynamic changes will affect the quality of the racing. Drivers have had great things to say during early testing but we won't know for sure until we get a few races into the 2013 season and see how it responds to different race tracks and different situations.

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