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July 28, 2014

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What?! No Mustang in Cup?!

I’m disappointed. Like a kid waiting to check out the latest Matchbox car at the toy store, I’ve been anticipating the introduction of the Ford Mustang to the Sprint Cup Series. But now, in a move that’s totally based on financial concerns, Ford has decided to continue basing the Cup car on its popular grocery getter, the Fusion.

One of the most famous cars to ever come from Detroit, the Mustang has represented speed, sexiness and youth in many of its forms over the years. And the current version of the car, which resembles the original design of the early Mustangs, is the sexiest and most youthful edition of the iconic muscle car.

Click to enlarge photo

Ford Fusion

And the Fusion? Well, it’s a practical four-door sedan that’s not a muscle car and it certainly isn’t that sexy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Fusion. It’s a top-seller for Ford that has a good reputation. But when I look at a Fusion I don’t think it looks exhilarating to drive or capable of turning a quick quarter-mile run. It’s a fine car, but it doesn’t stir the same emotional reaction that a Mustang does.

Ford originally planned to move the Mustang to Cup in 2013. But it recently decided it was more valuable to the company to race two brands, the Mustang in the Nationwide Series and the Fusion in Cup. Hey, I can see the company’s point. It’s in the business of making money and it wants the biggest dividend possible for its investment in NASCAR. That makes good economic sense. But as a fan, I have concerns that have nothing to do with Ford’s bottom line.

Click to enlarge photo

Ford Mustang

As NASCAR moves toward making the cars more representative of their street counterparts in 2013, the Mustang would have made a strong impression for the Ford brand on the track. Obviously, the manufacturer thinks the Fusion also strongly represents the brand. Especially since it’s a top-seller. But a Fusion doesn’t say “racing” to me. A Mustang does.

And Chevrolet may be taking the same path. Uncommitted to using the Camaro in Cup, Chevy may stick with one of its four-door offerings. Toyota has already said the new car will be based on the Camry.

I don’t care how much NASCAR tinkers with the design of the Cup car, there’s not much you can do to distinguish these sedans from one another, simply because they aren’t radically different from one another in their street versions.

Let’s just hope that Dodge decides to run the Challenger in Cup.

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