Chevy, Dodge to change models

The Charger and Monte Carlo's days in NASCAR are numbered.

Beginning in 2007, Dodge and Chevrolet will campaign new models in Nextel Cup competition, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

Dodge will run the Avenger, while Chevrolet will run the Impala SS, according to sources with some of NASCAR's manufacturers. The change also was indicated in a technical bulletin distributed to all teams last week. Both Dodge and Chevy soon will announce that they have been given approval by NASCAR to change to the new models, with Chevy's announcement possibly coming as soon as this week.

The street version of the new Dodge Avenger, which has been dubbed "the mini-Charger," was introduced at the Paris auto show in September. It is an all-new model that is smaller than, but similar in design to, the Dodge Charger currently being used in NASCAR.

Totally groovy animals.

The Avenger street model. (AP)

The Avenger is being touted as a direct competitor to the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry.

According to the sources, the stock car version has been approved for use by Dodge teams for both the current Nextel Cup car as well as the Car of Tomorrow version, starting next season.

Dodge had high hopes for the Charger when it was introduced back into NASCAR competition in 2005. However, it was plagued with aerodynamic handling problems during its first year because it was designed to make use of a larger rear spoiler that eventually was outlawed by NASCAR well after the final design for the Charger was completed.

Those aerodynamic issues weren't successfully addressed until this season.

The Avenger joins the Coronet, Mirada, Magnum and Intrepid as nameplates Dodge has used in NASCAR. The Charger nameplate was used twice, first in the 1970s and again in 2005.

Chevrolet's use of the Impala marks the second time around for that nameplate in NASCAR, as well. The Impala was the Chevrolet model of choice in NASCAR from the mid-'50s until the late '60s. Chevy also has campaigned the Bel Air, Lumina, Chevelle, Laguna and, of course, the Monte Carlo.

However, unlike its Dodge counterpart, the Impala SS will only be used by Chevrolet teams for their Car of Tomorrow, according to sources.

Manufacturers and NASCAR also are continuing to move forward with plans to change all of the models used in the Busch Series, perhaps as soon as the 2010 season. That change would put smaller, sportier models into competition, like the retro-designed Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger – as well as the Toyota Solara.