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Series new car program going ahead

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          NASCAR NEWS - Thursday, April 24, 2008
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Nationwide Series new car program steaming ahead
Debut envisioned for intermediate track after August 2009
By Dave Rodman, NASCAR.COM

MEXICO CITY - NASCAR has yet to make a definitive announce-
ment on the deployment of its "new car" in the Nationwide 
Series, but series director Joe Balash on Sunday said the 
car most likely would debut in the second half of 2009 on 
an "intermediate" racetrack. 

"We have some options that we've been talking to the owners 
with based on the rollout schedule," Balash said. "And one 
of the options that's carrying some momentum is potentially 
releasing the car after August [2009] on the mile-and-a-
half tracks." 

"We're still full bore on our test schedule -- we're still 
testing this year and building cars and doing those types 
of things, but we're working with the garage on what the 
right deployment schedule is." 

The only track-worthy prototype of the car that currently 
exists is in NASCAR's hands, but even it has not been on 
the racetrack. 

"Right now, all the testing has been done in the wind 
tunnel as we work on the manufacturers' individual identity 
pieces," Balash said.

"Once we complete that cycle, which is on schedule, then 
we'll go to the next phase, the second half of this year, 
with some testing on a short track and a mile-and-a-half 
track with the car." 

Representatives from all four manufacturers said their 
prospective versions of the new car had also been in the 
Lockheed wind tunnel in Marietta, Ga., in conjunction with 
NASCAR. 

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The next key date is the July 1 deadline for 2009 model 
submissions; and all four manufacturers said they 
anticipated no trouble in meeting that date. 

Of the four, only Toyota has announced its model for the 
2009 Nationwide Series. Toyota program manager for the 
Craftsman Truck and Nationwide series, Laerte Zatta, said 
the manufacturer had decided to stick with the Camry that 
currently races in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide 
series, but with a slight twist. 

"NASCAR was looking for a pony car, or a car that's 
different than what we have on the Cup Series," Zatta 
said. "But we don't have a model that is very different. 
The Camry, Corolla and Avalon are very similar in design, 
so we decided to just go with the Camry. 

"We were very open with NASCAR, because the other 
manufacturers were considering different models, but we 
don't have much option." 

Zatta said the twist came with what he called "less 
restrictive body templates" for the Nationwide version 
of the car. Toyota, he said, formed the body molds for 
its submission car by stripping the trim off Zatta's 
wife's Camry. 

"The detail is much more similar to a production car," 
Zatta said. "In fact, the original version had a license 
plate frame on the back, but the teams said it would give 
them trouble in putting on decals, so we removed it." 

Doug Hervey, manager of Ford Racing Technology's North 
American operations, said the manufacturer was "95 
percent certain" of what its model would be, but was 
not ready to announce it. 

"We're leaning toward one over the other," Hervey said. 
"We've tested scale models of the car and will continue 
to do that, and we're totally on-track with our submission 
plans."

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Shane Martin, GM Racing program manager for the Nationwide 
Series, said that Chevrolet's program is akin to Ford's. 

"Yes, GM Racing and Chevrolet have determined what model 
we will field, but are not ready to reveal that at this 
time," Martin said. "Each of the manufacturers had to 
make changes to their particular model per NASCAR's 
direction. 

"All OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturers] are going 
through the process of making these changes as directed 
and will have [a] final NASCAR wind tunnel test with all 
four manufacturers currently scheduled for late May or 
early June. 

"If all goes well, we will be on schedule for July 1 
submission." 

"NASCAR hasn't announced the final rules package yet, so 
it would be premature for Dodge to comment on what our 
plans are," said Mike Delahanty, senior manger of motor-
sports programs for Dodge. "We are on track to meet the 
deadlines required by NASCAR. Other than that, it's too 
early for us to reveal our plans." 

Balash said that while the basic 110-inch wheelbase new 
car chassis that has been used, first for 16 races in 
2007 and currently in all Sprint Cup events, will also 
be used in the Nationwide Series; the manufacturers' 
representatives said the fact that nothing is yet approved 
for the 2009 Nationwide new car has precluded any teams 
from starting to build one. 

"The final body style approval does preclude any chassis 
construction by the teams," Martin said. 

"Because of that reason, we haven't built any on-track 
models," Hervey said. "And we haven't supported any of 
our teams doing that either. But as soon as our submission 
is approved, we'll be able to go full speed ahead on that." 

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NASCAR has scheduled the first on-track test of the new 
Nationwide chassis following the Sept. 5-6 race weekend 
at Richmond International Raceway; and the three reps 
who were polled said they anticipated no trouble meeting 
that date. 

Balash said the second 2008 test would be at a 1.5-mile 
facility. 

A couple of team owners on Sunday at Autodromo Hermanos 
Rodriguez said their biggest concern was how the current 
schedule demands they have a great number of cars ready 
for different events, such as the current stretch that 
includes the intermediate track at Texas, the short track 
at Phoenix and the Mexico City road course followed by 
the superspeedway at Talladega on successive weekends. 

Balash said the owners' concerns were being addressed. 

"The teams have talked to us about the potential of having 
to go back and forth between one car and another," Balash 
said. "What we've looked at is a deployment schedule that 
keeps us on the mile-and-a-half tracks [because by that 
time] they've already used their speedway cars and their 
road-course cars of the current configuration, so that 
makes it a cleaner transition." 

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END OF NASCAR NEWS 
Copyright 2008 by NextEra Media. All rights reserved.

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