The curtain rose, the smoke billowed, and three NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen cars made a dramatic, roaring entrance onto the display floor at the unveil.

The first impression was obvious. When reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott drove the Chevrolet Camaro, Joey Logano the Ford Mustang and Denny Hamlin the Toyota Camry roughly 30 yards in the Wednesday afternoon unveiling of the much-anticipated Next Gen car, the most striking aspect was how much the new race cars resembled their production counterparts — and how easy it was to differentiate the new vehicles from one another.

“This is a significant moment for our sport,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps said during his introduction of the Next Gen cars. “This car is more relevant and includes more innovation than any car in NASCAR history. The styling of the car is clear. I mean, they look unbelievable. Just so incredible to finally be here.

“We really wanted to get back to a promise that we had made to the fans, which is to put the ‘stock’ back in ‘stock car.’ That was something extremely important to us and our fans. But just as important to our fans is the racing on the race track.

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