Race Weekend Central

Full Throttle: Putting the ‘Stock’ Back in Stock Car

On Tuesday (May 22), Toyota unveiled their next generation Toyota Camry Cup Series car and it was another step towards the 2013 NASCAR Cup season that will feature racecars that look much more like their street-legal counterparts.

The new ride has a redesigned nose, sides and rear end which reflect the design characteristics of the street car that it is modeled after. Like the Ford Fusion and Dodge Charger, the new Camry Cup car looks nearly identical to the street version, other than the front valance and rear spoiler and bumper.

The people who run NASCAR have heard the complaints that the cars on the track did not resemble the cars on the streets beyond some of the stickers on the car. NASCAR went to the teams and the manufacturers and set about rectifying that issue.

The manufacturers were not allowed to touch the hood, roof or deck lid, but the nose, tail and sides were open for adjustment. It wasn’t a completely blank slate, as the downforce numbers between the manufacturers have to be within very tight tolerances to help ensure parity.

While there has been unprecedented cooperation between the teams, manufacturers and NASCAR, this will most certainly bring back to the sport something that has been missing for years; teams begging for rule changes.

Back in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, teams would routinely go to NASCAR and beg for a quarter of an inch here and an eighth there in a loosely orchestrated dance between manufacturers. Ford would have a driver win two or three races, another driver or two would score a win and the Chevrolet teams would be knocking on NASCAR’s door claiming they were at a disadvantage.

Ford would counter by saying they were working harder and coming up with advantages that had nothing to do with the spoiler or the side skirts and the Chevy teams were just jealous.

Pontiac had fewer cars in the field, so they would have to fight extra hard, just like Buick, for any concessions. While people may have complained about it at the time, most older fans really miss those days when the different teams and manufacturers were constantly trying to gain an advantage and prevent the others from being given rule breaks.

In addition to those constant rule-change requests, the cars on the track looked very similar to the cars on the street. When a car would win a race, or go on a winning streak, the sales for those cars would increase. The main reason was brand loyalty, but it was also because the pictures of the car in victory lane or during the race, showed a vehicle that looked just like the cars that could be purchased at the dealerships.

That was the basis for the saying “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” The cars that won races on Sunday would see an uptick in sales most every week following the events.

There are many things that fans would like to see changed about NASCAR. One of the biggest points was that the cars didn’t look at all like the cars on the street. Next season, starting in Daytona, there will be unique-looking cars on the track that will look different from each other and very much like the cars that fans can purchase in the showroom.

It isn’t a huge step, but it is a big step in the right direction toward getting NASCAR back to where it came from and was most popular.

Most of all, it will put the ‘stock’ back into stock car racing.

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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