Next Gen NASCAR Mustang More Closely Mimics Its Street-Car Cousins

If you have ever wanted your stock cars to be, well, a little closer to stock, that time is coming soon. Ford Performance revealed its 2022 NASCAR Next Gen Mustang in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it shares a number of traits with its production counterparts — including rack-and-pinion steering, an independent rear suspension, and 18-inch forged aluminum wheels.

This car is true to the Mustang brand and we have to thank the Ford design team for working hand-in-hand with our aerodynamic engineers to ensure it is competitive on the track, while maintaining unique Mustang styling… — Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports

Developed over the course of two years at Ford’s design center in Dearborn, Michigan, and at the Ford Performance Technical Center in Concord, North Carolina, the latest NASCAR Mustang was not only crafted to more closely resemble the latest production Mustangs, but was built with a future-proof design that will accept hybrid or fully electric powertrains as they emerge in the racing world.

The Next Gen NASCAR Mustang definitely looks similar to its street-going cousin, the 2021 Shelby GT500. (Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company)

“A lot of work has been done behind the scenes to make sure this Next Gen Mustang remains relevant to our customers,” Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports, explained. “As the automotive industry continues to change, we’ll have the ability to keep up in the racing world without having to go through a complete overhaul or redesign of the car. This is something we’ve been waiting for and we’re glad the time has finally arrived.”

Styling was obviously an important consideration for a Mustang race car, but ensuring that look delivered on its aerodynamic performance as well meant relying on the Blue Oval’s NASCAR scale modeling and aerodynamics teams in Concord, where the Next Gen racer is still undergoing development on the full-motion simulators inside the tech center.

Not only do the two cars look similar, but they both run an independent rear suspension.

“This car is true to the Mustang brand and we have to thank the Ford design team for working hand-in-hand with our aerodynamic engineers to ensure it is competitive on the track, while maintaining unique Mustang styling,” Rushbrook added. “That requires a lot of give-and-take on both sides, but with the new smaller greenhouse area and shorter rear deck, we were able to do a lot of things to make sure there’s no mistaking this is a Mustang.”

Look for the Next Gen Mustang to make its NASCAR debut at the 64th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 2022. Before then it will appear virtually in some of NASCAR’s online iRacing events.

Next Gen Changes

  • Independent rear suspension vs. solid axle rear suspension
  • Five-speed sequential gearbox vs. four-speed manual H-pattern gearbox
  • Symmetric body shape vs. rear being offset to one side
  • 18-inch forged aluminum wheels vs. 15-inch wheels
  • Wheels will only have one center lug nut vs. five lug nuts
  • Shorter rear overhang compared to current model
  • Radiator exit vents through the hood
  • Complete underwing
  • Engine combustion air and engine cooling air all comes through the nose
  • Driver moved inboard and down
  • Rack and pinion steering
  • Carbon Fiber composite body – FFCB (Flange Fit Composite Body) similar to NXS
  • Coilover suspension
  • Exhaust out both sides

Safety Enhancements

  • Additional roll bars for driver safety
  • Form-fitted foam insert between chassis and nose/tail like production cars
  • Driver positioned closer to center line of car
  • Legacy hood flaps and legacy roof flap keeps race cars on ground at higher rates of speed
“Mustang is an iconic brand for Ford and when I saw the Next Gen Mustang in person for the first time I was pumped,” enthused Team Penske driver Joey Logano, the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion. “The aggressive look of the nose and the changes to the greenhouse and tail make the car more authentic to the street Mustang than ever before. I know the fans are going to love the Next Gen Mustang and I can’t wait to get it on the track.”

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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