Thursday, March 3, 2011 | 3:02 p.m.
For some time now I’ve wanted to get a close look at the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang that are now used in the Nationwide Series. So I spent the afternoon walking around the garage area at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during Thursday’s Nationwide Series practice in order to get an up-close look.
One of the primary reasons Ford and Dodge started using the Mustang and Challenger is to use products that are distinguishable from one another. The automakers want fans to be able to recognize their products and the best way to do that is to use cars that are as cosmetically different from one another as possible.
But, in reality, how different are these cars? Let’s face it; these cars are the same except for the noses, headlight decals and taillight decals. And there isn’t much difference between the noses of the Impala and the Camry.
Nevertheless, the Nationwide Series cars are more distinguishable from one another than the Cup cars. Of the four models used in the Nationwide Series, I think the Dodge Challenger has the most personality and is a more recognizable model than the Mustang, Camry or Impala. The front grille of the Challenger is the most distinctive and the rear light decal stretches all the way across the back of the car, which gives the Challenger a look that sets it apart from the other models. The Dodge Charger used in the Cup Series also has a rear light decal that goes across the entire rear of the vehicle. The front of the Mustang doesn’t attract much attention, but the rear definitely looks like the street version of the car. And as far as the Impala and Camry are concerned, well they are basically Nationwide Series versions of the Cup cars.
Here are a few photos from the garage area. I’ll let you be the judge on which car you think is the most distinctive.