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 |  Jun 12 2012, 3:45 PM

Earlier this year, Ford unveiled its 2013 NASCAR Fusion race car that looked very much like its production counterpart.

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 |  May 23 2012, 2:32 PM

Back in January, Ford unveiled its 2013 NASCAR Fusion entry, closely resembling the upcoming model with styling borrowed heavily from Aston Martin.

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 |  Jan 24 2012, 2:01 PM

Ford is the first company to show off its 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup contender, and it is in the form of the all new Ford Fusion that was released just two weeks ago at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

NASCAR is looking for more manufacturer identification between the new cars and the fans, which is why this year’s Fusion is a little more unique than its predecessor. NASCAR officials have been working closely with each of the four manufacturers that build NASCAR-eligible cars to make sure that the newly designed Sprint Cup cars do no stray in design too far from their street legal counterparts.

The NASCAR Fusion shares a lot of styling cues with the street version, notably the hood line, front grill and headlight design.

This time around the design process was very different for the Ford team, “We started going back to our design community and nosed around with guys that have been with the company the longest and we can’t remember the last time designers have been involved with helping NASCAR,” said Ford Racing NASCAR Operations Manager Andy Slankard.  “This time, we have had the luxury of support from the Ford Design Center to give us these sleek shapes and new look. Only designers could do that, not a bunch of engineers or race car guys.”

It is a bit of a departure from the last Fusion NASCAR, which basically only resembled the production Fusion thanks to its graphic package. This was becoming the case with all of the NASCAR contenders, and the result is a NASCAR wide initiative to make better looking and more identifiable cars for the 2013 race season.

GALLERY: 2013 Ford Fusion NASCAR