Busch Series to use Pony Car decals

UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. A source at Ford Motor Company says the motorsports division expects the Ford Mustang decals to replace the Fusion decals in the NASCAR Busch series. "We're expecting to run the Mustang decals in 2009," the source said.

It's the first confirmation from a manufacturer what I first reported in early 2006 – that the cars in the NASCAR Busch series, which will be called the Nationwide series in 2008 and beyond – may soon be substantially different from the cars in the top-tier NASCAR Nextel Cup series.

It makes sense for the manufacturers, who find themselves plugging the same car decals in the Saturday Busch races as they do for the Sunday Cup races – the Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Dodge Charger and Toyota Camry. By differentiating the two series with different decals, it would allow the companies to give some exposure to four different nameplates.

It also makes sense for NASCAR, which has been looking for a way to give the Busch series its own identity, after the invasion of Nextel Cup regulars has partly erased the training-ground aspect for the second-tier series. Twelve of the top 20 Busch drivers in 2007 also had a full-time Nextel Cup ride. Many of those Cup regulars run the Saturday Busch race as unofficial practice for the Sunday Cup race on dates where the two intersect – changing the Busch cars to a different body style would limit the amount of data drivers and teams can gather on Saturday that would effectively transfer to Sunday, but still all the cars on Saturday will be the same, with only the decals differentiating them.

NASCAR is expected to require the Busch cars to be built to a safety specification similar to the Nextel Cup "Car of Tomorrow," which becomes the standard car after the Daytona 500 in February. If a makeover will be required anyway for the 2009 season, logic suggests that would be a good time for a nameplate change, as well. Orlando Sentinel

10/27/07 Rumors continue to circulate that NASCAR will convert the Nationwide Series (formally Busch Series) to a so-called “Pony Car" class in 2009, utilizing Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and (possibly) Toyota Solara sheetmetal, in an effort to give the circuit a new and unique identity.

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