Vegas, NASCAR and the Gen 6 from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

Vegas… it’s the third different type track the NASCAR cup teams have faced with the Gen 6 car in as many weeks and some questions still remain. We keep hearing these cars are fast – and they are – but the speed is only important if you can race the other competitors with all that “added” speed instead of just following the leader single file until a caution comes out near the end of the race. We’ve also been told how good these cars look – and once again, they do look good – but looking good hasn’t translated into great racing either – at least not yet.

The drivers keep telling us how happy they are with these cars but the first thing out of many of their mouths during and at the end of a race is how hard it is to pass and how they’re still learning how to drive these Gen 6 cars. They expect great things out of these cars but they’re having to do what most race car drivers hate… yeah, that’s right… they’re having to be patient.

The fans are having to be patient also. We were told this car was all of the above and that the racing was going to be better than ever but so far (at least from this fan’s view) we saw better racing with the old car (that hardly anyone liked) and all of us hope what we are being told will eventually pan out… the racing will get better.

It’s interesting to this fan that with all of the changes NASCAR has made to the rules to make things better, a little rain falls and all of the sudden we’re back to lining up to the points according to last year’s ending points lineup. It’s not so much that it bothers me that we still have that same old rule, but surely there is a better way. I realize if they draw pills like they do for qualifying there is the possibility a big name could be left out of the field but couldn’t we at least just go back to the finishing order from the last race? I mean, they’ve just about changed everything else so why not that? Is there something inherently unfair about that, especially these days? (Well, probably not, but we all know NASCAR always has it’s reasons and I have to admit, they generally make the right decision.)

From this fan’s view, had it not been for the caution flag near the end of the race last weekend in Phoenix, the race would not have had the dramatic finish that it did have. In fact, it is my opinion it might have been anticlimactic and at least some of the lack luster racing with the new Gen 6 car might have been all the more obvious. Sure, I know this car is brand new and all of us – drivers, crews and fans – need to be patient and let them work out the bugs and make the necessary tweaks to it. I am sure NASCAR already has some tweaks ready to apply but they want to gather more information from more tracks before making any major changes to it (and I understand that.)

Now, this is only my opinion, but I do have a theory about what is going on with the Gen 6 car. I realize the car companies and NASCAR worked together very hard to make this car what it is. I also think (and this is my opinion also) that they may have made the perfect car but it just doesn’t race well the way it is. Let me clarify that a little by saying, from my view, the competitive gap has been closed too much and all of the features they built into it for specific reasons (in particular, to give the driver more of what they are looking for and to make the racing better) work too well. On the 2 ½ mile Daytona track, they had certain specs and rules and it worked fairly well but still wasn’t the best racing we have seen at a restrictor plate track. At the 1 mile track at Phoenix, the car was slightly different and the racing was, bluntly stated from this fan’s view, not that great. Yes, there were moments it looked like it was going to get really interesting but it just wasn’t happening for me, uh… at least not until that last caution.

Now we are at Vegas, the car is the same as last week and it remains to be seen how it will race on this 1 ½ mile track. They say this is the type track the teams frequent the most in the existing NASCAR season and that’s true and it is the kind of track they were thinking about when they were designing the Gen 6 car. As fans, we should know even more about this new car and how it races after this weekend.

As a fan, I don’t think I expect too much out of the new car and I do realize there will be some tweaks made that could (and probably should) make the racing better over time. One would think, at least with all the hype they had going on about the Gen 6 car, that there might have been a little more thought given to how they might actually race in packs and on different sized tracks. At least from this fan’s view, I will be patient and see how things pan out over the next month or two but, I do expect some changes to be made and I do expect those changes to lead to better racing all round in the Cup series…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 9, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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