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Nationwide Gets New Cars, Dodge Challenger Is Gorgeous

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On: Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 1:46PM | By: John Welch

Nationwide Gets New Cars, Dodge Challenger Is Gorgeous

NASCAR is unveiling (that’s right, I didn't say "NASCAR is reveals . . .") new bodywork for the second-tier Nationwide Series. This is bad because these new silhouettes are much closer representations of their respective models then what are used in the Sprint Cup Series, and they are also much more desirable models. Ford and Dodge have pulled out all the stops, serving up bodies that are not aero-perfect but that follow the spirit of racing much more closely than in years past. Win on Sunday sell on Monday works much better if the winning car represents at least some of the content provided by the customer car. Seriously, who buys a Fusion because it is fast? Fusions aren't fast, so nobody. The Mustang on the other hand . . . just sayin' . . .

In an effort to separate the Nationwide (formerly 'Busch Series') cars from the top-level Sprint Cup cars, all of the Nationwide cars will be adopting new front bodywork. However, the Toyota and Chevrolet racers will retain "Camry" and "Impala" branding. Boring, I wanna know about the 'lookers'!

The Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger were the obvious choices for each respective company when it came time to redesign the Nationwide bodywork. Both cars espouse sporting potential, and fit into high-speed stock car racing perfectly. I've never understood the NASCAR philosophy that fans are somehow fooled into thinking pedestrian grocery getters like the Ford Taurus and Chevy Lumina have any sort of use as "enthusiast" cars. They don't. That is, unless you're enthusiastic about window tint and gigantic chrome wheels. More power to you if that is the case. I think you're a dummie.

Of course, there just isn't that much to understand. Ford sells more Fusions than Mustangs, Dodge more Chargers than Challengers and Chevy more Impalas than Camaros. That last one might be the fault of GM's inability to physically make enough Camaros, but the general rule remains- NASCAR puts a company's mass-market family sedans on every living room television in the country, every Sunday. Toyota doesn't currently sell a vehicle that could even be considered in the same class as the Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. An LFA silhouette lain over a NASCAR chassis might be really cool though . . .

How do they look? The Mustang is a little awkward, but not nearly as awkward as the Fusion has always been. The grill stickers are a little squished and the front fascia is slightly distorted. Over all however, this is a decent recreation of the original. It has to be difficult to simulate any number of plastics and weird body add-ons with straight sheet-metal. Ford and Rousch have done a commendable job with the Nartionwide-spec Mustang.

The Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Camry mirror their Sprint Cup siblings but employ some of the "brick-like" aero changes seen with the Mustang. The noses are flatter, the front fenders shaped more like the production cars, the rear bodywork essentially identical to the Ford and Dodge models. The Impala and Camry will benefit from slightly more slippery aero tendencies when compared with the Ford and Dodge, but who cares about the same boring sedans we have seen for years? Not this guy and I assume not anyone else . . . On to the real winner: the Nationwide-spec Dodge Challenger.

In the Challenger we have the most faithful recreation of a production model stock car racing has ever seen. Not since the cars still used their production-mates unibody's (try the late sixties,) has a NASCAR stocker looked so absolutely gorgeous!

In production trim the Challenger is not quite up to snuff, dynamically, when compared with it's pony-car counterparts. Who effing cares? The Camaro is over the top, the Mustang fairly staid, the Nissan 370Z and Hyundai Genesis both come from the "Japanese Crack-Smoking Angles" school of design. The Challenger is just plain "right". Complicated details where they are needed, simple slab-sidedness where they are not. There isn't a bad angle on the Challenger and no grill in autodom means business quite like that of the Challenger R/T.

Speaking of that fantastic grill, it is perfectly envisioned on the Nationwide car, right down to the chrome trim ring between the menacing headlights. The R/T badge is in the right place and the slope of the fenders over the headlights is as dramatic as it is on the production car.

If I have to declare a winner (before any races have taken place, of course,) I think the Dodge boys have out-done themselves! It doesn't matter if they lose several tenths a lap because of silly aerodynamics, nobody is ever going to beat Kyle Busch ever again, and he drives one of those boring-ass Toyotas. If looks are all that counts anymore then hand the trophy to Dodge and their bang-up Challenger!

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