Chevy, Ford, Toyota execs talk Sprint Cup season so far

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When NASCAR created its new rules package over the off-season for the Generation 6 cars, a key goal of the project was to boost the racing product on the 1.5-mile ovals, which make up a good portion of the schedule.

So far, the Sprint Cup Series has visited one of those tracks (Las Vegas) and will reach its second 1.5-miler this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway for the Duck Commander 500. Chevrolet vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports Jim Campbell is looking forward to seeing how the racing improves there.

“I think clearly Texas will be another datapoint for that,” said Campbell, who was joined on a NASCAR teleconference today by executive counterparts Jamie Allison of Ford and David Wilson of Toyota. “We’ve just had one race under our belt. I think actually we’re heading in the right area, and the racing has been quite good.

“But with only one race at that kind of category of a track, I think Texas will be another one to look at here and see how the racing is.”

Overall, however, the three executives indicated that the new package has been a step in the right direction for the Gen-6, which made its on-track debut last season.

Wilson, the president/GM of Toyota Racing Development, went so far as to call the collaboration between the sanctioning body and its manufacturers an “unqualified success,” adding that while their work together may not always yield a home run, “we’re going to hit them more often than not.”

“Each of us continues to reap the benefits of the Generation 6 cars introduced last year,” Wilson said. “Having our respective brand identities in front of the fans and letting the fans and letting the broadcasters talk about the rivalries between Ford, Chevy and Toyota, that’s what this sport was founded upon…We’re just delighted for that result.”

In recent years, NASCAR has implemented new projects pertaining to the sport’s technology, from ethanol fuel and fuel-injection technology to the Gen-6.

Ford Racing director Allison indicated that the next step to bring the race cars closer in line to the manufacturers’ road cars could involve bringing in some of the latter group’s interior features.

However, he feels that no matter which area of the car is targeted, that free-flowing dialogue between NASCAR and the manufacturers is essential.

“As long as we continue to look at the teams and the elements that are in the automotive sector and what is making its way into production cars and then having an open conversation with the sanctioning series about what product, what categories, what elements could be timely considered – that is the process that we the manufacturers are advocating for,” he said.

Marco Andretti to drive throwback scheme to honor 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario’s last win

Photo courtesy Andretti-Herta Autosport
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Marco Andretti wanted to do something really special to honor the 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario Andretti’s final Indy car win in 1993 at Phoenix International Raceway (now known as ISM Raceway).

So the third-generation Andretti, along with his team, Andretti-Herta Autosport, came up with a plan and design that will take longtime race fans back in time when it appears early next month for the Phoenix Grand Prix.

Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Oberto Beef Jerky Circle K/Curb Honda will be decked out in the colors of the car his grandfather won his last race on the one-mile short track 25 years ago.

“When the idea of a throwback livery celebrating my grandfather’s final win was thrown around, Oberto was ready to get to the drawing board,” Marco Andretti said in a media release. “The black, white and red car resembles many of my family’s race cars and was a big part of my life growing up.

“It’s really cool to be able to add one of my cars to that family legacy.”

The car is a virtual double of the legendary Newman-Haas Racing and Texaco/Havoline-sponsored car Mario drove on that celebratory day in the Valley of the Sun 2 ½ decades ago.

Various events and ceremonies during the April 6-7 race weekend will honor the senior Andretti. That includes several of his former competitors who will be on hand to celebrate with Mario, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, Arie Luyendyk, and of course, son Michael Andretti and grandson Marco Andretti.

Check out what happened on that day 25 years ago:

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