Back in early November, The Blue Oval pulled the covers off its latest NASCAR racer, this time, based on the new Ford Mustang Dark Horse. While it isn’t too terribly different versus the outgoing model, the new stock car is designed to look more like its road-going counterpart, and it features some notable change to the front end that compensate for minor variances discovered during wind tunnel testing of the previous next-generation racers. During early testing, drivers noted that these changes were making a difference on the negative effects of “dirty air” – or aerodynamic turbulence – though it seems as if the new Ford Mustang Dark Horse racer hasn’t spent any time on the track since then, according to Motorsport.com.
According to this new report, both Ford and Toyota have only completed one on-track test with their new race cars, and that was a limited session, to boot. This is largely due to the fact that NASCAR chose to eliminate most on-track testing back in 2015, after which the development of new racers has moved mostly in-house.
Perhaps shockingly, this means that after the Ford Mustang Dark Horse NASCAR racer participated in an organizational test in Phoenix in December, it’s next chance to hit the actual track won’t come until a pre-season event – the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – set to take place in early February, and two weeks later, it’ll make its debut in a real race at the season-opening Daytona 500. Regardless, Ford Performance seems confident that it will be able to get off to a good start, in spite of these challenges.
“Design submissions have changed quite a lot in recent years, especially in 2022, ’23, and ’24,” said Richard Johns, Ford’s NASCAR performance leader. “One of the biggest things we gain in the sport is technology transfer between what we do in the production world and what we do in the race world. All the tools that we use – the wind tunnel, the CFD, the design – all of that carries back and forth. So, what we learn in the development of the Cup car carries over to production and what we learn in production carries over to the Cup car. There’s a lot of technology transfer and especially on the aerodynamic side.”