In this week's edition of the NASCAR Mailbag, Jim Utter answers fan questions regarding the future of Ford's NASCAR Cup program and how 'stock' stock car racing still is.
Roger Penske indicated Ford will have a new car for 2019. When will Ford make the announcement and what kind of car will it be? - From JP
JP, thanks for the question. It is likely the Ford announcement will come over the summer or early fall, perhaps around one of the Cup Series races at Michigan, since the manufacturer's headquarters is in the Detroit area. While there has been no official word on the model (it could be just an updated version of the Fusion for instance), the most commonly floated idea is that Ford will adapt its Mustang to the Cup Series. Again, though, that is only speculation.
Since it’s supposed to be “stock car” racing, what parts are on these Chevrolet, Ford, or Toyota race cars that you would find on any "stock" car? Why don’t they call it the NASCAR-IROC series? – From Dan
Dan, 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.
Last week in California, there were 13 teams that did not pass inspection. Because they didn't pass, but still raced, does that mean they were racing with illegal cars? Thanks, Bently
Bently, no. All 13 of those cars still had to pass pre-race inspection on Sunday morning before the race - and they all did. So, all cars in the race had successfully passed an inspection.
Why does NASCAR allow cars out on track with body parts held together with duct tape when they are so picky about other infractions. What if one won a race, would they be penalized? If not, why? If so, why let them out on track? From Roy
Roy, many drivers have won races with duct tape holding a piece or pieces of the car in place. NASCAR doesn't penalize teams for crash damage, but will investigate any inspection failure to ensure it came from on-track incidents and not from something a team did intentionally. It's impossible to rebuild a car during the race, so NASCAR allows temporary fixes to many - but not all areas. For example, teams cannot replace engines in the race but duct tape can be used to hold a bumper cover in place.
Do you think NASCAR should or will make future penalties for failing inspection tougher? From Mike
Mike, NASCAR already made one change last weekend for the Xfinity Series qualifying session - which was requiring any car that does not pass pre-qualifying inspection to begin the race having to make a pass-thru penalty on pit road once the field has taken the green flag. If you noticed, no one failed inspection. It is expected NASCAR will continue to utilize that rule - or something similar or even harsher - going forward.