by Michelle Perkins
With 16 drivers competing in NASCAR's Nextel circuit – including Ryan Newman, who notched eight wins and 11 pole positions last year – it is easy to forget that only three years ago DaimlerChrysler's Dodge division was returning after a 25-year absence from stock car racing's most prestigious tour.
To gain a perspective on just how far Dodge has come, go back to 1999: DaimlerChrysler had fewer than 500 days to design and build a competitive car for the 43rd Daytona 500 in February 2001. The aerodynamics team accelerated its work with computational fluid dynamics (CFD), advanced visualization, and scale-model wind-tunnel development to augment traditional full-scale wind-tunnel and on-track testing. This combination of processes has since become the standard for DaimlerChrysler race programs and commercial cars.