The 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) saw Ford unveil the latest version of its NASCAR Sprint Cup-specification Fusion. This latest iteration marks the third major body change for Fusion since its initial unveiling in NASCAR in 2006 and represents another step towards keeping “stock” a relative part of stock car racing.
The Gen 6 models, introduced in 2013 saw the reintroduction of brand-specific characteristics to the bodyshells, and as a result Ford has introduced a series of cosmetic enhancements so that the Sprint Cup car resembles the 2017 productin specification Fusion.
“There’s no mistaking we’re here to win races and championships,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “And we believe the new NASCAR Fusion will be a powerful tool in the hands of our teams and drivers. Aerodynamics are more important than ever in this sport at the speeds these cars are running, so we used some of the best wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamics technology available to help create this new Fusion, and fortunately the Ford design team gave us a great vehicle to work with from the start.”
Regulation changes see the mandatory introduction of a digital dashboard system for drivers, replacing the iconic oversized tachometer and other analogue dials. Teams can switch between as many as 16 different preset screens to display information and see information in either bar graphs, numbers or the standard gauge and needle that has been used for years.
This latest technological advancement from NASCAR comes on the heels of several significant changes, including switching to electronic fuel injection in 2012 and going to an ethanol fuel blend in 2011.
Ford has continued to refine its own technological program as well, opening up the Ford Performance Technical Center in Concord, North Carolina, in 2014, which features a state-of-the-art full motion simulator that assists both racing and production car development.
“The Technical Center and the full-motion simulator have been a great tool for our teams and engineers,” said Pericak. “As important as aerodynamics are in NASCAR, it’s also imperative that the computer simulations that assist the teams in arriving at the track with a proper set-up are also best-in-class. We have been working very hard the past year to refine our simulation tools to create a real benefit to our race drivers, as well as the drivers of our new high passenger vehicles.”
The car will make its track debut later today (Tuesday 12 January) when 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski participates in a two-day Goodyear test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Fusion’s competition debut is scheduled for February 21, 2016; the 58th running of the Daytona 500.