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Nationwide '09 to see major changes

Old 01-23-2008, 10:08 AM
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Default Nationwide '09 to see major changes

Looks like Dodge wants to race the Chally!

Nationwide '09 to see major changes

Steven Cole Smith | Sentinel Staff Writer
January 23, 2008

When the NASCAR Nationwide Series -- formerly the Busch series -- takes to Daytona International Speedway for the season-opening race Feb. 16, you won't see many changes, aside from the series title sponsor.

A year later, though, the 2009 season opener could be the debut of the biggest changes to NASCAR's second-tier series in decades.

First, look for body styles to be different from the Sprint Cup Series. Instead of the Ford Fusion, expect the Ford Mustang to be the manufacturer's Nationwide car of choice.

Dodge Motorsports director Mike Accavitti confirmed Tuesday to the Orlando Sentinel that he is hoping to run the new Dodge Challenger as his Nationwide Series entry. The Hemi-powered Challenger goes into production later this year.

The change in body style will not be the only major adjustment, as NASCAR is hard at work on changing the Nationwide Series chassis to match the Sprint Cup "Car of Tomorrow."

Brett Bodine, former NASCAR driver and now a member of NASCAR's research and development team since 2004, says the next-generation Nationwide car will use the same basic chassis as the Sprint Cup car, right down to an identical wheelbase -- as it is, the Nationwide car's wheelbase is shorter.

Unlike the Sprint Cup car, the Nationwide car won't use the big, separate rear spoiler, nor will it use the same kind of front air splitter. And while the basic suspension will be the same, the Nationwide car is likely to have more suspension travel.

As for the COT

At Sprint Cup testing at Daytona, racer Carl Long, who is hoping to race in the Daytona 500, was trumpeting the COT as helping low-budget racers like him compete.

"I can take this one car and race it at practically any NASCAR track," Long said.

Bodine, whose title is NASCAR's Director of Cost Containment, beamed at this news. Car owners, he said, no longer need to build separate cars for super speedways, sort tracks, intermediate tracks and road courses -- the COT is standardized to the point where, with minor modifications, drivers can race anywhere.

~) 69.5 SuperBee

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