Ford debuts new NASCAR Fusion, to race for first time on February 21st

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 18, 2016

This year’s iteration of the NASCAR Fusion will be competing for the first time in February at Daytona Speedweeks. Ford has been aggressively preparing its racing vehicle for the major event. Memories come to mind of the same preparations by Ford three years ago.

After NASCAR gave the go-ahead for car makers to create racing cars that are customized according to what characteristics the auto companies want to infuse in them, Ford wasted no time in mobilizing its designers to create a racing version of that model year’s Ford Fusion.

How does the new Fusion race car differ from the production counterpart? By looks alone, both cars look the same but the difference is felt when entering the car. As mandated by the rules of this year’s NASCAR season, a new digital dashboard system will display information to the racing teams through various graphical representations such as bar graphics, numbers or an electronic gauge-and-needle display.

The screen has 16 different display presets for the teams to choose from. These innovations are a result of different technological changes that have come to NASCAR since 2011. These include the brand-defining Gen 6 model which ultimately defined NASCAR racing.

Other changes include mandatory ethanol fuel blends beginning in 2011, and the use of electronic fuel injection since 2012. Ford kept up with the changes as well with several technological programs of its own. For instance, since 2014, it has been using a full motion simulator to design its fleet of vehicles, including racing cars. This simulator is used in the Ford Performance Technical Center, located in Concord, North Carolina.

Before the NASCAR race, Ford’s NASCAR Fusion makes an appearance in Las Vegas. It will participate in a Goodyear Test Session with 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski behind the wheel.

The session will take place at the Motor Speedway in Las Vegas for two days. The event marks the start of Keselowski’s fourth season with Ford. In the previous season, Keselowski added more to his accolades by winning first place at the Auto Club Speedway.

The driver earned 7th place in terms of points, qualifying for The Chase along the way. Keselowski had piloted the Ford Fusion in 8 winning Sprint Cup Series seasons. This marks the 11th year of the Ford Fusion as a flagship vehicle for the NASCAR race event. Beginning in 2006, the Fusion was the car behind 71 Sprint Cup Series victories.

Most remarkable of which is Greg Biffle’s victory for Roush Fenway Racing on June 16, 2013. The victory at the Michigan International Speedway was a milestone, being Ford’s 1000th win in the entire NASCAR series. Joey Logano also brought distinction to the Ford Fusion when he piloted one year last year to victory at Daytona 500.

This was Team Penske’s first win at what is considered The Great American Race. Feb 21 will be the day that the new version of the Ford Fusion officially races for the first time. This will be a Sprint Cup points race, which will also kick off this year’s season of the Daytona 500.

There will be 36 races total in the entire season. February 21st’s race will take place on Florida’s Daytona Beach. For NASCAR and Daytona 500 enthusiasts, they can follow the entire 36-race season up to its conclusion at Ford Championship Weekend on November 20. The concluding ceremony will take place in Homestead, Florida.

Press Release


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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