One of the newest rides in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage doesn’t carry a self-proclaiming name like the Fabulous Hudson Hornet. That’s fine with driver Marcus Ambrose.
He prefers to describe his 2013 Ford Fusion — one of the three new Generation 6 stock car styles making its debut this season — in a different way.
“It is a bit of sheet metal and nuts and bolts, but I still think it’s sexy,” said Ambrose.
The Australian driver gave a Gen 6 sneak peek for media at Kentucky Speedway on Tuesday, showing off his No. 9 Stanley Tools Ford Fusion owned by Richard Petty Motorsports alongside a Gen 6 cut-away car. The Gen 6 races at Kentucky Speedway with the Quaker State 400 on June 29.
The Gen 6 class, which also includes the Chevrolet SS and Toyota Camry, wanted to return to its NASCAR days of “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” with showroom cars like the Buick Regal, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Dodge Charger, Ford Thunderbird and Pontiac Grand Prix, among others. That didn’t happen with the Gen 5 (Car of Tomorrow), which used the same boxy body and chassis for every team.
“(The Fusion) is a great looking car, the grill on it is recognizable better than any other car out there on the track, so we made the right choice,” said Pat DiMarco, NASCAR program manager for Ford. “The sleek lines of the body style — we call it sleek and sexy back in the design center — we wanted to make sure the designers on our race car were the designers in our show room.”
As for NASCAR, the series set two general rules for the Gen 6: The chassis cannot change and the competition has to remain at the 2011 level when Tony Stewart edged Carl Edwards on a tiebreaker.
“The biggest thing about this car is the fundamentals,” said Ambrose, currently 20th in points. “It’s a faster race car. It’s lighter. It’s got much more downforce than the old COTs. It’s a nice looking race car to jump in. I think as a race-car driver once you strap in you just want a fast car. This car is super fast.”
The cars could be even faster — especially that Fusion, he hopes — when the Sprint Cup series visits in June. Ambrose said about 85 percent of the Gen 6 capabilities are known, leaving an opening to find more speed, especially on Kentucky’s 1.5-mile tri-oval track.
“This track is really wide and it feels a lot flatter than a lot of the mile-and-a-halves. It gives you a different feeling,” Ambrose said. “We’ve learned a lot in the first few races (this season). The teams are getting a grip on the cars now and by the time we get to Kentucky, the drivers, certainly, will have learned how to race them better.”
Quaker State 400
What: NASCAR Sprint Cup
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday June 29
Where: Kentucky Speedway
Tickets: (859) 578-2300 or www.kentuckyspeedway.com