It might seem strange that on a racetrack where 43 cars can beat and bang on each other for the better part of three hours, the one thing nobody can see sometimes makes the most difference in who gets across the finish line first.

Yet that’s the case almost every week in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as the air that gets buffeted around from stock cars whizzing around at close to 200 mph provides grip and speed for the one in front while those stuck in the pack struggle to overcome its turbulent force.

That’s why when it came time to start designing the 2013 NASCAR Ford Fusion stock car, aerodynamics was paramount to its development.

“The aerodynamics for the development of this 2013 Fusion is very important because we want to put a new car out that is very similar in downforce, drag and balance to the current car we’re racing, so we end up with a smooth transition from the old car to the new car,” said Ford Racing aerodynamicist Bernie Marcus. “The main objective is to put more brand identity into the race car. So what we’ve been trying to do is capture as many of the 2013 production Fusion character lines as we possibly can and incorporate them.”