Mailbag: Will NASCAR expand its influence into Asia?

On this week's NASCAR Mailbag, we look into the difference between manufacturers at the top level of NASCAR and the prospect of the sport's expansion into Asia.

Hi, all. Help me out ... we hear of Ford vs. Toyota vs. Chevy along with their relative performance to each other at different times throughout the season.  Other than the nose of the body and the engine block/head, are there any significant differences between the cars when all is said and done? – Griff

Griff, much of the actual car chassis - what is underneath the body - is covered by very strict safety rules issues by NASCAR. Because of that, some of the body areas are very similar across all manufacturers. However, where you see the biggest differences are in the nose, the rear end and the contours (shaping) of the body on the hood and sides of the car. And as you mentioned, each manufacturer produces its own engine in the Cup series. Right now, the NASCAR vehicles are all very similar to their street-model brethren in style and shape. Under the body work? Not so much. – Jim Utter

Hi. My question is should NASCAR expand its influence into Asia? If so, how? Setting up a regional series there? – Faris

Faris, NASCAR is expanding its reach into Asia and will likely unveil some plans in China in the near future. There could well be a regional series at some point, similar to the NASCAR Euro Series in Europe and the Pinty's Series in Canada. My guess is NASCAR may begin with an exhibition race of some sort to test the waters. They did three exhibitions in Japan from 1996 to 1998 - two years at Suzuka and one at Twin Ring Motegi. Although if NASCAR enters the market, it will likely do so with long-term plans and shy away from only one-off events. – Jim Utter

How much does a Cup car cost? We hear these figures occasionally, $200,000 maybe $300,000.  Would these kind of numbers include labor for the team that built it or does material really cost that much? – Neal Smith

Neal, the Gen-6 cars were described as "good for NASCAR, not so much team owners." Take a guess what was meant by that? The cars cost around $200,000 with engine costs at $100,000 and a chassis at $25,000 in the first few years of the current car cycle. That total of $325,000 is probably a conservative estimate. But, when you start including staff, running costs and backup cars, you're hurtling towards the million mark. – Tom Errington

Hello, can a new manufacturer start with one series, say the Truck Series? As they figured that out, then in a year or two go up to the Xfinity Series? Also, if a manufacturer doesn’t manufacture a truck, can they still start a Cup or Xfinity team? – David

David, what you described is exactly the plan that has been utilized in recent history for new manufacturers to enter NASCAR competition. Before Toyota ever began competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, it first entered competition in 2000 in the Goody's Dash Series, then moved to Truck competition in 2004 and eventually Cup in 2007. Each season, the NASCAR rulebook spells out the requirements and timetable for submissions of new vehicles, whether from current manufacturers or new ones. However, NASCAR is free to alter its rules when it sees fit, so if a potential new manufacturer didn't sells trucks, for instance, it could change its requirements and perhaps require competition in the Xfinity Series first. – Jim Utter

Hi Team! do you expect the other leading Ford Team, Team Penske, to catch up to SHR anytime soon? Also, who do you see as the leading Team Penske driver right now? Thanks! – Jack

Jack, I would expect Penske to catch Stewart-Haas Racing up as there's been a clear step up in performance over the off-season in the Ford camp and the strong start to the season for other runners like the Wood Brothers suggests the effective parent team of Penske has scope to improve. Picking a star Penske man is tough right now, but it's certainly between Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney. Both have been consistent this season but have lacked that extra step to get into Victory Lane.  – Tom Errington

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