Given the privileges to serve as the official pace cars for this year’s Ford 400 competition are the new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the new 2010 Fusion Sport. To serve as the pace car at the start of the race – leading the field – is the Fusion Hybrid. Meanwhile, the pace car for the remainder of the race is the new 263-hp Ford Fusion Sport.
Having the Fusion Hybrid as the pace car in Ford 400 marks a new milestone, since this will be the first time in NASCAR history that a hybrid vehicle is the pace car in the Sprint Cup Series. The Ford 400 is the third and final race of Ford Championship Weekend.
According to Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas, the new Ford Fusion raised the stake in the mid-size sedan segment by offering outstanding fuel economy and fun-to-drive factor. He quipped that the new Fusion Hybrid serving as pace car for the Ford 400 demonstrates what their customers want -- fuel economy and fun – adding that the race will provide a peek of the capability of the hybrid model.
Fields is tasked to wave the green flag at the start of the Ford 400. Interestingly, the new Ford Fusion Hybrid could run in electric mode at speeds up to 47 mph. Moreover, a single tank of fuel is enough for the new Ford Fusion Hybrid to cruise on city streets to over 700 miles. Ford expects its hybrid offering to surpass the mileage numbers of the Toyota Camry hybrid by at least five mpg in city driving.
Ford’s latest hybrid offering features a smaller, lighter high-volt battery that has a higher charge capacity and wider range than those of its current generation battery that is installed in the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid. Gil Portalatin, Hybrid Applications Manager, noted that since the new Ford Fusion Hybrid could cruise at higher speeds in electric mode, it allows drivers to do more in city-driving situations.
He added that under the right conditions, the new Ford Fusion Hybrid could be driven in the neighborhood or mall parking lots without consuming a drop of gasoline. Carl Edwards, a NASCAR Fusion driver, remarked that it was only appropriate to have the 2010 Fusion Hybrid pace the Ford 400. He noted that the Ford Fusion already boasts of having great fuel mileage, just like his NASCAR Fusion race car.
He described as “cool” the hybrid version of the Fusion, which is already the best-in-class in terms of fuel economy. He remarked he hopes to be on the pole position next week at the Homestead so he would be driving right behind the Fusion Hybrid pace car at the start of the race.
Edwards has already claimed eight Sprint Cup races this season and is vying for championships in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races at Homestead.
During the race, the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Fusion Sport be in racing-inspired camouflage, since both cars are yet to be officially unveiled at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. Ford will commence sales of the new Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Fusion Sport in the spring of 2009.