Fusion will replace Taurus in '06


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ford Motor Co. unveiled a prototype
Thursday of the model that will replace its Taurus on the NASCAR

The Fusion, a model debuting for Ford in 2006, will make its
first start in next season's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona
International Speedway. Ford plans to phase out production of the
Taurus over the next few years.

Driver Dale Jarrett is expected to test the Fusion at Atlanta
Motor Speedway next month as NASCAR completes its approval process
for the car.

"We've worked hand-in-hand with NASCAR on the development of
this car, and we can't thank them enough for helping us bring the
Fusion forward," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing
Technology. "Our guys did a terrific job of getting the NASCAR
Fusion to where it needed to be, and we actually were ahead of
schedule in getting it to NASCAR."

The Fusion is Ford's first all-new nameplate car for NASCAR
racing in 38 years. The last was the 1968 Ford Torino. The Taurus
was already in production when it debuted in NASCAR competition in

Ford drivers have won 100 races and three championships in
NASCAR's top series, as well as one Busch Series title with the

With shape of NASCAR cars dictated by strict body templates,
there are not many discernible differences among the various car
manufacturers. Chevrolet and Dodge also field models.

The Fusion's rounded nose and three-bar grille will help set it apart from other race cars, Davis said.

Ford drivers said they look forward to the change in cars.

"I think it looks slick. I really like the front end of it and
I think it will be fun to drive," said Ford driver Elliott Sadler.