There has been a lot of talk about Ford’s upcoming role in NASCAR, and more importantly, what vehicle would (hopefully) lead them to another Sprint Cup Championship. For a while the discussion centered on the new Ford Mustang, but as it turns out, Ford has something else in mind. Specifically, for the 2012 racing season, Ford’s Sprint Cup field will be led by none other than the 2013 Ford Fusion. And it looks good.

Fundamentally speaking, underneath the new skin is the same “Car of Tomorrow” that all NASCAR teams must make due with. However, there has been a serious disconnect in recent years between the looks of production, street-legal cars, and those that bore the name (and little else) on the NASCAR track. Ford is hoping to change that with the new 2013 Fusion Sprint Car, which wears similar proportions and design cues to the actual production model.

And like the production model, the 2013 Fusion Sprint Car looks damn good. The front grille is easily recognizable, as is the greenhouse, and Ford spent a lot of time figuring out the aerodynamics of the look, ensuring they won’t put themselves at a competitive disadvantage in favor of aesthetics. This is Ford’s second Fusion Sprint Cup Car, the first having debuted back in 2006.

However, despite the big “ECOBOOST” letting scrawled across the side, we doubt Ford plans to stick one of its turbocharged engines under the hood. More likely it’ll be a ROUSH-Yates 351 fuel-injected V8. Maybe some day. But for now, at least we’ve got a pretty new competitor to look at. The 2013 Ford Fusion Sprint Cup Car will campaign this year, but not compete, and will make its official racing debut in February of 2013.

Official Release 

New 2013 Ford Fusion NASCAR Sprint Cup Car Brings the “Stock Car” Back to NASCAR

– Ford Racing unveils 2013 Fusion NASCAR Sprint Cup redesign at Charlotte Motor Speedway during NASCAR Media Tour.
– 2013 Sprint Cup car features full redesign by Ford designers to mirror 2013 Fusion production car and return brand identity to the track.
– New Fusion race car will debut at Daytona 500 in February, 2013.

CONCORD, n.c, Jan. 24, 2012 – Manufacturer brand identity is back in NASCAR.

The 2013 Ford Fusion NASCAR Sprint Cup car, unveiled today as part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour, was worked on by Ford designers in an effort to bring brand identity back to the sport. The result is undeniable with the 2013 Sprint Cup car mirroring the recently unveiled 2013 Ford Fusion production car.

Featuring a completely redesigned sleek new silhouette and fresh face, the 2013 Fusion Sprint Cup car was designed to be the face of a new era of stock car racing.

“We wanted Fusion to be the car that helped return ‘stock car’ to NASCAR.” stated Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. “I think fans, when they see the car, are just going to smile and cheer. It is going to reengage them with the sport and make the sport better because there is just something natural about seeing race cars that look like cars in their driveways.”

This marks the third time Ford simultaneously launched production and NASCAR versions of a new model. The first dual launch came in 1968, with the sleek fastback Ford Torino. Legendary NASCAR driver David Pearson drove the Torino to back-to-back NASCAR championships in 1968 and 1969. The second time came in 2006, when the then newly introduced Ford Fusion appeared in showrooms and on the track.

Ford took a different approach with the development of the 2013 Fusion racer. Ford Design Center staff, led by Garen Nicoghosian, and Ford aerodynamicist Bernie Marcus, spent the past year doing the early design development, freeing up the Ford race teams to concentrate on weekly NASCAR competition.

“This is a seminal moment in the sport where we had a chance to get it right once again and make sure the race cars are race versions of street cars. And I am proud because I believe we have accomplished just that,” continued Allison. “The 2013 Fusion is a stunning car and the 2013 NASCAR Fusion is even more stunning and I can’t wait to see it perform on the track and connect with race fans.”

Ford designers, led by Nicoghosian, addressed three main issues to mirror the 2013 Sprint Cup Fusion to the 2013 production Fusion found on showroom floors.

Design Features of the 2013 Fusion Sprint Cup Car
– Designers addressed the overall proportion of the race car to reflect proportions found in the production Fusion.
– Brand and design cues in the side of the vehicle.
– An identifiable front end grill with the distinctive look of a Ford.

“It looks fun to drive and very much eager to go and tear up the track. It has a very aggressive stance from the outside and the inside. From all angles the vehicle exudes performance and I think it reflects our general attitude of how we go about setting up our cars very, very nicely,” said Nicoghosian. “It brings a certain level of nimbleness and lightness and agility to the NASCAR platform, much like we do in our production cars, because all of our production cars have that nimbleness and agility and eagerness about them.”

The new NASCAR Fusion entries will be tested throughout the 2012 campaign in preparation for their racing debut at the 2013 Daytona 500 in February.