By admin | January 9, 2010
By Richard Allen
NASCAR has shown very little flexibility when it comes to making changes to the Car of Tomorrow. Except for only a minor tweak or two the sanctioning body has held the line on the controversial vehicle used in the Sprint Cup division since 2007.
Finally, it looks as if NASCAR is listening to drivers, crews and media who have voiced concerns about the car. Perhaps more accurately, they may be listening to the fans as they voice their concerns about the car and other issues with their absence from the grandstands and their televisions.
Under the guise of improving the carâ€™s safety NASCAR may soon replace the rear wing on the car with a more traditional bladed spoiler.
In recent races, particularly on the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega, the CoT has shown a tendency to lift off the ground when turned around backwards. This obviously poses a danger to drivers and even to fans. It has been considered that the design of the rear wing may serve as a contributing factor to the carâ€™s instability when spinning around.
While this change may only be initially enacted on the high speed tracks at first, it very well could be applied to all tracks in time.
The change to the car will likely help take down force away from the rear of the car, depending of course on the size of the new rear blade. A positive side affect would be that passing should be easier and more prevalent. One car moving near enough to the rear of the car just ahead would take the air off the spoiler and cause the leading car to slide up the track thus allowing the trailing car to pass. With the carâ€™s current configuration, the CoT has so much down force that the lead car will not move thus the trailing car canâ€™t pass even if it is faster.
Also, the dreaded term â€˜aero-pushâ€™ might well disappear from the driversâ€™ vocabulary.
Driver Carl Edwardsâ€™ initial reaction was a positive one in regard to the change. “It depends how much down force the car has,” Edwards said. “Iâ€™ve got to believe if you can pick from having wings on the back of them all the way to the other end where they drive like they did in 1985 with no down force, Iâ€™d much rather have no down force. I was beating up on Robin Pemberton to make that spoiler about an inch high — just something to keep the rear end from coming off the ground. That would be fine with me.
“If thatâ€™s the direction weâ€™re going, then Iâ€™m 100 percent for it. You could go to softer tires then, you could drive the car sideways, you would theoretically be able to handle behind someone because you arenâ€™t relying on down force as much. I think all those things are good.”
The most important aspect of this whole discussion is that NASCAR has indeed decided to listen to the complaints of drivers, fans and the media. It may have taken the threat of lost revenue to make that happen but it does appear to be happening.
In 2009, NASCAR made positive changes by opting to use double-file restarts. After last yearâ€™s debacle in Talladega it also looks as if the no bumping zones may become a thing of the past as well. There has even been talk that the yellow line rule may be waved for the last lap of plate races.
The key to voicing so many complaints so often is to get NASCAR to wake up to the reality that their product has declined badly in recent years. Hopefully they have been awakened. Now, letâ€™s keep working on them until they allow brand identity in the CoT and do away with the Chase for the Championship so that drivers will go back to actually racing to win rather than simply trying to add up points each and every week.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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