The sixth-generation NASCAR Sprint Cup racecar, which will make its competition debut at the 2013 Daytona 500 this weekend, marks the closest thing to a "stock car" that the sport has seen in more than 20 years. No longer using just stickers to distinguish the different brands, the image above shows the lengths NASCAR and automakers went in order to create a racecar design that more closely resembles the individual cars they represent.

Ford, one of the more open and vocal OEMs regarding the Gen6 car's development, is giving us a closer look at its racing version of the Fusion with a pretty revealing side-by-side comparison with last years' racer (click above for an expanded view). Aside from the more realistic front end and production-like body lines, the overall shape, dimensions and proportions have also been designed to give the racecar a more stock appearance. Most of the new racer was designed by the Ford Design Center, which the automaker says was the first time it has been so involved in the design process since the 1960s. Of course, one area the Sprint Cup Fusion really differs from the production Fusion is its Ford Racing 5.8-liter V8 producing around 850 hp. Can you say Fusion SVT?

Scroll down for a quick video from Ford Racing showing a production Fusion morph into a Cup car.

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After More than Two Years in the Making, 2013 NASCAR Fusion Ready to Make its Debut in Daytona

-The car that helped bring back "stock car to NASCAR" ready to take to Daytona track

-More than two-year development process included work by Ford Design Center, computational fluid dynamics, wind tunnel work, body stamping, and finally, on-track testing

-2013 NASCAR Fusion is part of Gen 6 launch of NASCAR race cars

-Fusion race teams will try and capture fourth Daytona 500 win in five years

DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 15, 2013 – Today, the "stock car" officially returns to NASCAR.

After more than two years of development , including extensive work by the Ford Design Center and Ford aerodynamic experts, the 2013 NASCAR Fusion will take to the race track as practice opens for the 54th running of the Daytona 500.

"This is a day so many of us at Ford and Ford fans have been waiting for," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. "When we first unveiled the 2013 NASCAR Fusion in Charlotte in January 2012, we said we wanted to help return the 'stock car to NASCAR.' Without question, with this car, we have."

The new "Gen 6" NASCAR race cars being introduced this weekend return manufacturer identity to the sport. It continues the trend of NASCAR introducing more consumer relevance to the sport the past three years, including the use of alternate fuels, fuel injection, and now manufacturer identity.

"We are a car company. This is car racing," said Allison. "This was a great opportunity to work with NASCAR on creating cars that people see on the race track that really look like what they have at home. The opportunity to bring back brand identity to these cars is something the fans have asked for, something NASCAR led, and something we as a manufacturer enabled.

"The small experiment that showed the scale of what this could be happened with the Nationwide series when we introduced the Mustang with more identity two years ago. We saw the exciting reaction from the fans, and even from people who didn't follow NASCAR. We knew then we were on the right track."

The process to get to the 2013 NASCAR Fusion started more than two years ago, with the series' manufacturers first meeting, and deciding to go to NASCAR with a proposal that they would work hand-in-hand with the sanctioning body on the next generation vehicle. Ford Racing Operations Manager Andy Slankard and NASCAR Cup Program Manager Pat DiMarco would lead the Ford team developing the new car.

At Ford, the process started at the Ford Design Center, where a team of designers, led by Garen Nicoghosian, did the initial clay sculpting of the race car, sitting side-by-side with its production counterpart. It was the first time the Ford Design Center had been actively involved in the design of a NASCAR race car since the late 1960s.

The first full-size clay model race car was shown to NASCAR and Ford drivers and teams in June 2011, and was met with an enthusiastic reception.

From there, joint projects between the Ford Design Center and Ford aerodynamic experts led by Bernie Marcus began working to match NASCAR-mandated aero targets, while still maintaining the look and feel of the new 2013 production Fusion.

In January 2012, the world was introduced to the 2013 Ford Fusion at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and two weeks later, Ford stunned the motorsport world with its unveiling and first on-track test of the 2013 NASCAR Fusion at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR took each manufacturer to Homestead Miami Speedway at the end of January 2012 for the first joint test of the cars, and then development continued.

At Ford, development continued on aerodynamics, using both the wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamics, to start honing in on what the final car would be.

There was some re-design of the car's front end, most noticeably in the grille area, where a full 3D version of the grille replaced what had originally only been a decal treatment.

By mid-summer, 2012, the stamping of sheet metal began in Michigan, and Roush Fenway Racing and eventually Penske Racing started building additional track testing cars.

Following a Martinsville short track test in September with Roush Fenway, and a superspeedway test in October with Roush Fenway and Penske Racing, the final versions of the 2013 NASCAR Fusion were put in place for teams to start building their cars.

Finally, one year to the day after the race car was first shown to the public, 10 NASCAR Fusions roared through the streets of Uptown Charlotte in a lunchtime demonstration run that declared the Ford version of the Gen 6 car was ready to go.

This weekend, Ford teams from Roush Fenway Racing, Penske Racing, Wood Brothers Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Germain Racing and Front Row Motorsports will debut their new Fusions, and, for fans, there will be little doubt that the sport has changed.

The Ford teams will look to continue a streak of success in NASCAR's biggest race, where Fusions have won three of the past four events.

"We know nearly 40 percent of new car intenders are race fans, and of those fans, almost 84 percent of them follow NASCAR," said Allison. "Racing helps drive our business. We know Ford race fans consider, shop and buy more Fords than the general public. So bringing back this kind of relevancy to NASCAR is the 'X Factor.' Fans may be at the races because they love cars, but then to add the relevancy of the cars we race looking like the cars they own, well, it just adds that emotional connection between us and the fans that we all seek."

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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 171,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

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    • 1 Second Ago
      The Wasp
      • 2 Years Ago
      I appreciate Ford's gesture but they have a long, looooong way to go if they want to claim that NASCAR cars have anything in common with production cars. I would like them to do it, at least in some ways. For example, NASCAR could require that the car have the same wheelbase, overall length, and height as a production car. I think that would do a lot in terms of making the proportions more similar. It would also be interesting if NASCAR mandated a sedan shape if the car is named after a production sedan and allowed a shorter roofline for cars named after production coupes (2-door sedans also, for the German terminology apologists).
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's a tricky balancing act. It must be easier and more reliable to meet the modern safety standards with a standardized chassis thing, but they still want to keep "Stock Car" in the title. Ditching the Stock Car implication would help, but they have successfully built the NASCAR brand. Then again, I don't attend or watch NASCAR or the even more ridiculous "truck" series, so what do I care?
      • 2 Years Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      I enjoy many forms of racing and every year, I watch a little Nascar. I still find it to be one of the most boring forms to actually watch. In person, or actually doing it is probably a thrill, but watching it on TV just doesn't do it for me. It would be really nice if the cars had to start with a production unibody chassis and have to build a roll cage around that. WRC does this, and the cars are clearly safe as they crash in to tress and roll like crazy. The cars look like actual cars because they are. While hand built and not even close to stock, they at least start as something that is the same thing as a production car. They should then be forced to sell a limited number of street versions. Just like in the old days. It would also bring back more RWD cars and push big engine fuel economy technology at the same time.
      • 2 Years Ago
      These Gen6 cars are a huge improvement over the so-called "Cars of the Tomorrow", which were impossible to identify by brand or driver during a race. I'm surprised it took NASCAR so long to grasp the fact that their fans don't want to be forced to take notes on car colors, sponsors logos, and headlight sticker shapes just to identify a Ford from a Toyota. Unfortunately, NASCAR waited too long to change and have lost the Dodge brand for a least a couple of years, if not forever.
      • 2 Years Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't understand the constant Nascar should use real cars. What other series in this world uses real cars driving over 200 mph for 500 miles and can crash without the driver getting killed? These cars are built for safety pure and simple. Throw the so called V8 Super cars from Australia on the Daytona track and watch the death toll. I for one will be looking forward to the Daytona 500 this weekend as are millions of others.
        • 2 Years Ago
        lets call a spade a spade, I think what irks most of us is that they use the name Fusion, or Camry etc and these cars have nothing in common with the street version. Until they put a V8 and rear wheel drive and use the body shell then quite calling it a Nascar Fusion. It is like calling the Mercedes F1 team their car a c-class. It is quite the joke that these "stockcars" have fake headlights and grills that are nothing but a sticker and the car looks like nothing like the actual street version. Most of us would have no problem calling them a Ford, a Toyota, a Dodge, quit the charade in trying to market the cars with the win on Sunday sell on Monday BS
          • 2 Years Ago
        • 2 Years Ago
        Maybe you're too young to remember REAL stock cars like the Plymouth SuperBird and Dodge Daytona. Although I don't recommend wikipedia, it's a start to combat ignorance. Not only that, but Chrysler was required to produce almost 2000 of them for sale to the public, not necessarily with racing hemi engines! Less than 10% were produced with hemi 426 street engines, the 426 was homologated by producing separate hemi engines in the quantity necessary. Otherwise there were two versions of the 440 engine available. just google dodge daytona superbird in images and see awesomeness. Time to require the NASCAR racers and their corporate sponsors to build/homologate stock cars....todays cars are so much better than 1970 and that superbird and its counterpart Ford Torino Talladega would do 200mph in 1970! It's doable, but the circus that is NASCAR wants to hold costs down (read eliminate mechanical competition and leave it up to the drivers. Sad.).
      • 2 Years Ago
      I haven't watched a NASCAR race in 30 years, probably around the time they started moving away from actual stock cars.I'd love to see completely stock appearing cars with today's racing's mighty safety systems which are highly effective. I might even watch the races again.
        • 2 Years Ago
        I watch NASCAR. What I'd love to see is a move more towards Australian V8 Supercars. That is quality racing right there. Scary as all else but so entertaining.
      • 2 Years Ago
      That's f-ing gay. That f-ing pisses me off.....
      • 2 Years Ago
      why cant they instead just start with the stock fusion and do everything needed to perform up to the standard the old cars set? it cant be that hard, the Australians have been doing it for how long with the v8 supercars. i hate that they even bother trying to make em look like anything, especially front wheel drive four cylinder sedans! if they would just use the same techniques the aussies use with the falcons and commodores, just on mustangs and camaros, then im sure they're rating would start going back up. i know i'd watch it more then
        • 2 Years Ago
        It was pretty forgettable, but some of you may remember the Pontiac G6 that ran in Grand Am after the GTO pulled out. It started as a stock G6 and gas converted to V8 rear drive. Kind of like the new Nissan Altima in V8 supercars. It can be done.
      • 2 Years Ago
      In other news. Nascar is still boring, and it's still losing viewers. Ring around the rosey!
      • 2 Years Ago
      My riding lawnmower has more in common with a NASCAR Fusion than a FORD Fusion.
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