Faces in new places

  • Joey Logano – Moved from the No. 20 with Joe Gibbs Racing to the No. 22 for Penske Racing
  • Matt Kenseth – Moved from the No. 17 with Roush Fenway Racing to the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing
  • Kurt Busch – Moved from the No. 51 Phoenix Racing to the No. 78 for Furniture Row Racing
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Rookie season in Cup Series, will run the No. 17 for Roush Fenway Racing
  • Danica Patrick – Rookie season in the Cup Series, will run the No. 10 for Stewart-Haas Racing

Gen-6

The Gen-6 (or sixth generation) is a new body style that is made to resemble a production car. And while the change is mostly cosmetic, the expectation is that it will return mechanical grip back to the drivers. The hope is that the new car will allow for more dynamic racing and more position battles because the cars are easier to maneuver through traffic. The more level playing field should provide even the smaller teams (i.e. Swan Racing, Furniture Row and Phoenix) to keep up with the big boys (i.e. Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush and Penske).

No more top-35 rule

In the Sprint Cup Series, the best 36 cars based on speed in qualifying will make the field. The next six spots will be determined by owners’ points and one final spot will remain for a past champion. If there is no past champion, then another spot will be awarded to the next driver in owner points. The change will not only allow the fastest cars on the track to earn starting spots, but should provide fans with the drama that has been lacking in qualifying over the last few years.

Penske to race Fords

Defending champion Brad Keselowski drove a Penske Dodge to a title last season. But with Dodge dropping out of NASCAR Penske Racing will switch to Ford and will have its engines supplied by the Roush Yates engine department. In 2012, Penske Racing was the only Dodge team competing full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The team had limited resources to gather information for each week’s race. The switch to Ford will give the Penske Racing teams the opportunity to share information about their engines with other teams using Roush Yates engines.

Tradin’ paint

With a new car comes a new paint scheme. The most visible change to the Gen-6 will be the nameplate on the top of the windshield, revealing the said driver’s last name. With so many drivers changing teams, this will help fans decipher who is in what car with a little more regularity. Other new looks include a single sponsor logo permitted on the roof and headlight decals may no longer have numbers or sponsor decals on them – and instead be moved to the front and rear bumpers.