Dollar General 300 Showcases New NASCAR Nationwide Series Cars
Race fans will see the future on Oct. 15 during the Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
NASCAR is transitioning to a new-generation race car for the Nationwide Series and the Dollar General 300 is the last of four "preview" races before the car is fully implemented for the 2011 season.
Based on the same 110-inch wheelbase chassis introduced to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2007, the new Nationwide Series car includes the same safety features - a larger cockpit, a relocated driver's seat and energy absorbing materials - as its Sprint Cup counterpart. However, NASCAR engineers have worked hard to incorporate elements that differentiate the Nationwide Series car from the Sprint Cup version.
"The differences fall into three categories," said Joe Balash, NASCAR Nationwide Series director. "The first is the engine package that the two different cars have. The Nationwide engine uses a tapered spacer which reduces some of the horsepower. We also reduce some of the RPM in the engine with our gear rule versus a Cup car.
"We have a different front-end suspension package," Balash added. "The Nationwide cars are using a conventional coil-bind spring set-up while the Sprint Cup cars use a bump stop on the shock package.
"The third thing is that the Nationwide car has more aerodynamic drag than the Sprint Cup car and that drag will slow the car down a little bit as well. All three of those things make the car drive and handle differently than the Sprint Cup car."
The biggest difference race fans will notice during the Dollar General 300 is that the new Nationwide Series cars more closely resemble the street versions of the four competing models.
"One of our goals was to give the Nationwide Series its own unique identity," Balash explained. "The look of the car is very important to us.
With what we did aerodynamically on the car, it allowed the manufacturers to add some more details which give the cars a closer resemblance to the cars that are on the showroom floors."
While the Toyota Camrys and Chevrolet Impalas are revised versions of the same models those two companies have raced for several years, the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger are new to the NASCAR circuit.
In addition to receiving rave reviews from fans for the way the cars look, Balash said the drivers have been pleased with the way they drive.
"It has been received very, very well," he said. "We have had the good fortune of the time, effort and energy that the Sprint Cup teams have spent dialing in the chassis."
The transition to the new Nationwide Series car appears to be going smoothly despite the tough economic climate as full fields of 43 cars were on hand for the races at Daytona, Michigan and Richmond.
"There is never a good time for the conversion and the costs that are involved," Balash noted. "We've worked with our owners for a number of years now and we've actually kind of held back the launch of the car until this year."
So what type of action can fans expect Friday night when the new cars battle during the Dollar General 300?
"As we rolled out the car, one of our early tests was at Charlotte.
We've got that history to go on and we'll also have extra practice time at the event which will allow the teams to help dial the cars in," Balash said.
"Charlotte is a very fast mile-and-a-half speedway and I think the Nationwide Series teams have put on some very good shows there."
Tickets for all October races at Charlotte Motor Speedway can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). The Bank of America Fan 4 Pack includes tickets, hot dogs and Coca-Cola drinks starting at just $39.75 per person or fans can get four nights of great racing with the Bank of America 500 Weekend Super Ticket for just $99.
For daily updates on October race activities, connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway by following on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CLTMotorSpdwy or become a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/charlottemotorspeedway.