NASCAR to change front bumper of Sprint Cup cars

NASCAR is expected to change the shape of the front bumper on all Sprint Cup cars for the 2011 season to help improve brand identity for its auto manufacturers.

For Ford, that could eventually lead to a change in what nameplate it puts on its car, with a possible move from the Fusion currently being used to the Mustang.

But first, Ford officials want to see how the changes affect the front of the Cup car.

NASCAR Vice President Robin Pemberton said Friday the sanctioning body is close to approving the final specifications for the new front bumper.

The change will be in the bottom half of the bumper, which currently has a rectangular indentation where the bottom half does not stick out as far as the top half. The new front bumper will be more curved, and the change would eliminate the need for the front splitter braces because much of that area of empty space will now be part of the new curved lower half.

“We’re working on it – we’re close on that," Pemberton said. “It’s just time for a style change. We’ve been working on it for about a year now. We’re working on [the brand identity] with the manufacturers."

Some of what is being changed to the Cup car is being used on the new Nationwide car, which is going to be run for four races in 2010 and then full-time in 2011.

Ford and Dodge are introducing muscle-car nameplates (Mustang and Challenger) in conjunction with the new Nationwide car. Toyota and Chevrolet are keeping the Camry and Impala nameplates.

Ford Racing’s North America Motorsports Director Jamie Allison said Thursday that if everything goes well in implementing the Mustang into the Nationwide Series, as well as the changes to the front bumper of the Cup car, he would consider changing the Ford nameplate for Cup to Mustang.

“We want to see more brand identity in the cars," Allison said Thursday during an event.

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