NASCAR President Mike Helton has announced that that the car manufacturer's brand badge will now flank the drivers' names atop Sprint Cup racecar windshields this season.
"We believe this will help build the identity of the driver with the racecar and their relationship with the manufacturer," Helton said. "We've found that four of five of our fans have an affinity for the brand of car. A lot of those relationships are even older than the relationship with their favorite driver."
The windshield ID expands NASCAR's efforts to more closely distinguish competing marques. The sanctioning body has worked closely with Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota to develop bodywork for the new "Gen6" Cup cars that match the profiles of stock models sold in showrooms. The new cars feature body panels unique to the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet SS, and Kim Brink, NASCAR's vice president of brand, consumer and series marketing, said its part of an aim to strengthen the way fans view the cars on the track vis-a-vis the cars sold in showrooms.
"The new car is a game-changer for us in marketing," she said.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said the new cars also will feature new safety enhancements in the roll cages and are about 150 lbs lighter than last year's models. Feedback from drivers, he added, has been good so far but everyone is waiting to see what happens when the first green flag drops.
"We'll see what happens when they're door-to-door," he said. "Right now it's just been individual tests and guys driving by themselves."