Chevrolet teams will be wheeling around some new sheetmetal in the 2003 season, debuting a redesigned Monte Carlo. And based on early indications, these babies could be tough to beat.

Bobby Hutchens, director of competition at Richard Childress Racing, said he liked what he saw during recent wind tunnel tests on downforce and speedway versions of the new Monte Carlo. "Both of them show to be better than what we are currently racing right now, pretty much right out of the box," Hutchens said in October when the cars were put on display. "I think we'll be in pretty good shape."

How different is the new car? "I think it's quite different," Hutchens said. "The percentage from front to rear downforce is quite a bit different balance-wise on our downforce cars, and our speedway cars are going to be quite different in the fact that some of our numbers aren't what we're used to seeing with the Monte Carlo."

The reworked Monte Carlo drew on the efforts of Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Inc., and Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs' two drivers, Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte, will move from Pontiacs to Monte Carlos in 2003.

Some of the redesigned elements of the 2003 Monte Carlo were based on the Dodge Intrepid, which, of course, was based on the Ford Taurus. Like the other makes, the front is lower. Look the new Monte Carlo over and you'll notice more rounded lines for a sleeker overall look. However, the changes go beyond different bends in the sheetmetal. The Monte Carlo will no longer use a stock hood, and the rear decklid will have new sheetmetal, too.

The bottom line is that designers believe they have a more stable race car, one that will deal better with the "aero push" problem that drivers have complained about so much. The final test will come at Daytona when the 2003 season gets rolling.