Ford Fusion puts on its game face for NASCAR

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
Ford introduced a new Fusion at the Detroit Auto Show this week, bringing with it a stonking new Sport model with 325 horsepower under the hood. But that's not even the most powerful version of the new sedan. This is.

Changes to this NASCAR version mirror those on the production sedan. While most of the hard points are determined by the racing regulations, the latest Fusion stock car features a new front-end design patterned after the roadgoing version and honed in the wind tunnel by the Ford Performance team in Concord, NC. But it's not just the nose that's new.

Ford has also fitted its latest Sprint Cup racer with a new digital dashboard with 16 preset information screens with virtual gauges, bar graphs, and numeric displays through which the driver can toggle. Of course the engine is a little bigger than the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. In between the new nose and cockpit sits a 5.8-liter V8 pumping out 750 horsepower, which is a more than double what the Fusion Sport can muster on public roadways.

The new Fusion will debut at Daytona next month for the start of the new season ahead. The Fusion has represented the Blue Oval in the Sprint Cup since 2006, winning 71 races since its introduction. Among them was the checkered flag that Greg Biffle took for Roush Fenway Racing in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 16, 2013, which (counting all three series) marked Ford's 1,000th NASCAR win.

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- The new NASCAR Fusion, which hits the track next month at Daytona Speedweeks, is capable of producing 750 horsepower at 9,000 rpm under the current rules package.
- Ford's NASCAR drivers will digest more information in Fusion with a new digital dashboard system that is mandatory for this season. Teams can switch between as many as 16 different preset screens to display information with three different graphic looks

DETROIT, Jan. 11, 2016 – History has repeated itself when it comes to the preparing the new NASCAR Fusion for its competition debut in February at Daytona Speedweeks.

Much like three years ago when NASCAR allowed manufacturers to include more brand-specific characteristics, Ford once again used the talents of its designers to make sure the same eye-catching components that are included in the new 2017 Ford Fusion production car appear on the racing version.

The result is an aggressive-looking race car capable of producing 750 horsepower at 9,000 rpm under the current rules package.

"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."

The new NASCAR Fusion successfully follows in the tire tracks of its predecessor by not only mirroring the exterior of its production counterpart but bringing a better interior to the driver.

Ford's NASCAR drivers will digest more information through a new digital dashboard system that is mandatory for this season. 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 the Gen 6 model that brought brand identity back to the sport in 2013, 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."

Fusion debuts on track Tuesday in Las Vegas
The new NASCAR Fusion will make its public debut Tuesday when 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski participates in a two-day Goodyear test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Team Penske driver is coming off a season in which he qualified for The Chase after winning at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA, and finished seventh in the final point standings. This is Keselowski's fourth season driving with Ford and his seventh for car owner Roger Penske. He has 17 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins with eight of those coming behind the wheel of Fusion.

Fusion entering 11th season of NASCAR competition
Fusion debuted as NASCAR's flagship model in 2006 and has won 71 Sprint Cup Series races in that time, including 21 the past two seasons.

Roush Fenway Racing's Greg Biffle drove Fusion to a milestone victory at Michigan International Speedway on June 16, 2013 as his triumph in the Quicken Loans 400 represented Ford's 1,000th win in NASCAR's top three series combined.

Fusion has won the Daytona 500 four times in the last seven years, including 2015 when Team Penske's Joey Logano won "The Great American Race" for the first time.

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.

Daytona 500 marks first official points race for new Fusion on Feb. 21
The new Fusion will debut during Daytona Speedweeks and compete for the first time in a Sprint Cup points race on Sunday, Feb. 21 during the 58th running of the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Florida. That marks the first of a 36-race schedule which culminates with the champion being crowned at Ford Championship Weekend in Homestead, Florida, on Sunday, Nov. 20.

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