As promised, Ford Racing will bring the Mustang to NASCAR, starting next year in the Nationwide Series.
Looking rather un-Mustang-like, with the exception of a decal strip across the front that bears some resemblance to the narrow grille and headlight assembly on the 2010 Mustang, Ford says the cars will be part of a limited "muscle car" rollout - which will also include the Dodge Challenger.
"We're excited about being able to race Mustang in front of our loyal NASCAR fan base and know it's going to win races and championships just like it has in every other series it has competed," said Brian Wolfe, director of Ford North America Motorsports. "The Mustang created the pony car movement when it debuted in 1964. Now, the NASCAR Mustang has the opportunity to create a whole new look to stock car racing at its highest levels."
When the story was first reported that both Ford and Doge would bring their pony cars to NASCAR, it was expected that the vehicles would move into the top-level Sprint Cup series, helping boost interest after the series has posted a considerable decline in attendance and TV viewership in the past year. That no longer appears to be the case. Instead, the cars will debut in the Nationwide Series in an effort to help distinguish that series from Sprint Cup.
"We had been talking with NASCAR for some time about Mustang as part of its vision for a 'muscle car' rollout for the Nationwide Series. We both saw it as a way of differentiating the series from Sprint Cup," said Wolfe. "We loved the idea, so we jumped on the chance to extend Mustang's racing legacy to a new series reaching a huge and loyal audience. Mustang has dominated other forms of racing, including NHRA drag racing, Grand-Am Cup road racing, and Formula D drifting, and now it's coming to NASCAR Nationwide."
Surprisingly, while the Ford Mustang is touted as the "most successful single nameplate brand in professional racing history," it has never competed in NASCAR.
"I think race fans ‚Äď and Mustang loyalists - will be very pleased when we publicly roll out the first car later this fall," said Wolfe.
More: Official: Ford Mustang to Race in 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series