NASCAR's rollout of its new Nationwide Series race car design has garnered buzz already with the introduction of the first-ever Mustang-branded stocker, and it got another shot in the arm yesterday at Talladega when Chrysler pulled the wraps off its brand-new Dodge Challenger Nationwide racer. We personally love the fact that the Challenger NNS car retains the same general front-end look as the production street car -- partially restoring an element that's been missing from stock cars for years now. The new Nationwide Mustang and Challenger will join their yet-to-be-unveiled counterparts from Chevy and Toyota (don't hold your breath for a Nationwide Camaro) in four races on the 2010 Nationwide Series calendar: Daytona in July, then later dates at Michigan, Richmond, and Lowe's Motor Speedway. The new car designs are expected to be fully adopted for the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series season. This process mimics the way NASCAR rolled out the Car of Tomorrow in the top-tier Sprint Cup series. Check out Dodge's official press release after the jump, and have a closer look at the new Dodge Challenger Nationwide car in the gallery below. As soon as Chrysler PR uploads photos that show more than just the car's front end (come on, guys...), we'll update the gallery.
UPDATE: NASCAR.com has shots of all four new NNS cars. The Chevy and Toyota retain Impala and Camry branding.
[Source: Dodge Motorsports]
Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes - Dodge Introduces Challenger For NASCAR Nationwide Series
TALLADEGA, Ala. (Friday, Oct. 30, 2009) – Dodge Motorsports today revealed the Dodge Challenger as the "New Car" for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and announced an expansion of its partnership with Penske Racing beginning in 2010. Dodge will provide support for Penske Racing's two-car operation in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in addition to Penske's three teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
"As the performance brand of our new company, we are excited to expand our relationship with Penske Racing and introduce the iconic Dodge Challenger as our entry into the NASCAR Nationwide Series," said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO, Dodge Car Brand. "Motorsports are a significant part of the Dodge brand's legacy. Penske Racing has such a rich tradition in motorsports, and our partnership in the Nationwide Series will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase the Challenger and offer our loyal Dodge enthusiasts plenty of excitement in this very competitive series next year."
Penske Racing will field two teams, both running the full-season schedule. The Dodge Challenger will be used at the four "New Car" races NASCAR has designated, starting at Daytona in July. At the other 31 events that complete the 35-race season, Penske Racing will field Dodge Chargers as it did this season with the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger driven by Justin Allgaier. NASCAR is expecting full integration of the "New Car" in 2011.
Joining Allgaier will be Brad Keselowski in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge. He also will compete in the Dodge Challenger for the four designated races and in a Charger for the remainder of the schedule.
"Today's announcement further reinforces our relationship and commitment to Dodge Motorsports, and we are excited about our future with this great brand," said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing. "We believe Dodge's relationship with Penske Racing will continue to elevate and highlight both our brands and deliver value to Dodge enthusiasts."
Allgaier, in his rookie season in the Nationwide Series, is currently fifth in the season point standings and the leader among Rookie of the Year candidates.
"Penske Racing has a very successful relationship with the Dodge brand," commented Allgaier. "I am honored to be one of Dodge Motorsport's drivers and to be able to drive the new Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series is going to be awesome. The car looks great and will give the Nationwide Series its own identity."
2010 Dodge Challenger
The Dodge Challenger merges the best American muscle-car characteristics-unmistakable design, world-class handling, powerful engines and technology-to delight driving enthusiasts across several generations. The two-door coupe accommodates up to five passengers and is produced from the company's proven rear-wheel-drive platform. With three models of head-turning styling, two legendary HEMI® V-8 engine choices, up to 25 highway miles per gallon, more than 25 safety and security features and modern amenities, it's no surprise Dodge Challenger was awarded J.D. Power and Associates "Most Appealing Midsize Sporty Car" in its 2009 APEAL Study.
"The Dodge Challenger has proven to be one of the most sought after high-performance vehicles on the street today," said Dave Bailey, Senior Manager of Motorsports Engineering and SRT Body, Interior and Electrical. "Sharing our consumer's passion for performance through the race version of our Dodge Challenger will continue to showcase the unique engineering brought to our race and production vehicles."
Dodge will continue its support of Penske Racing's three-car operation in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2010 with drivers Kurt Busch, Sam Hornish Jr. and Keselowski.
The No. 12 Dodge Challenger will take part in Monday's NASCAR Nationwide test session at Talladega Superspeedway for the "new cars" with Allgaier driving.