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Changes may be on the way for the CoT…Is NASCAR finally listening?

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 car’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 car’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 car’s current configuration, the CoT has so much down force that the lead car will not move thus the trailing car can’t pass even if it is faster.

Also, the dreaded term ‘aero-push’ might well disappear from the drivers’ vocabulary.

Driver Carl Edwards’ initial reaction was a positive one in regard to the change. “It depends how much down force the car has,” Edwards said. “I’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, I’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 that’s the direction we’re going, then I’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 aren’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 year’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, let’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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6 Responses to “Changes may be on the way for the CoT…Is NASCAR finally listening?”

  1. Bill B Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 10:12 am

    “Changes may be on the way for the CoT”

    About #$&^’in time.

  2. Gina Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 11:20 am

    It’s about time NASCAR woke up to smell the coffee. That giant sucking sound they heard was the void created by fans leaving the sport as quickly as possible since the racing was so bad and seeing the money drain away, too. I can understand not going to a race, it’s very expensive to do that, but when you can’t get them to watch it on TV, well, that says a lot.

    When the new TV contract started in 2001, I never missed a minute of any of the coverage. In 2009, I never watched the pre-race shows, had the TV on with the sound muted and followed the race more with trackpass on my computer rather than the TV coverage.

    This is one dog ugly car (sorry to insulting any good looking dogs) and it doesn’t race well. Being able to setup and pass during the race is what makes race fans tune in. Most of us commute in a high speed parade every day going to and from work, I don’t need to watch them do it on the weekends.

    Nascar still has a long way to go to prove to the fans that they are listening. Sometimes customers that have been insulted and abused don’t ever come back.

  3. Joe in Pittsburgh Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I quit watching the pre-race shows years back and this past year was the first time I missed probably 70-80% of the laps which is down from never missing a lap if my life depended on it. It’s amusing they are “considering” changes,so to keep in theme with that,I am “considering” tuning in to maybe 50% of the racing this year. They wont get more than that though until lucky dogs and chases are only talked about in rabbit hunting.

  4. The Mad Man Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Something else to consider in all this is that the Ivory Tower Gang in Daytona will make changes to something to serve as a distraction from other, bigger problems. The old smoke and mirrors routine that they’re quite proficient at. Prime example being last season and the change to the restart rules. It didn’t make the cars handle any better, it didn’t put butts in the grandstands, and it didn’t make the races more exciting. They were still Sunday afternoon naps for the most part.

  5. MiK Watson Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Isn’t it a bit late to be making changes to the COT? They said announcements to be made on Jan 21…three weeks until race time. Changes to the realwindow area?!?; going back to the spoiler?!?;dropping the splitter?!? All involve HUGE alterations to car’s handling, with no way to find out if it’s driveable! This should have been done before they went to dinner on Thanksgiving. The Cup series is NOT a short-track race in Pocotello, ID! How about some professional promoter work? What a bunch of chumps.

  6. Joshua Says:
    January 12th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I for one loved the double file restarts. The spoiler will hopefully help keep the leader from taking off like he does which is the number one problem right now. There is mostly racing in the pack, but up front there is rarely any unless someone just has one heck of a car and gets put back. Sometimes thats not even enough. I still love racing, and in some ways I feel its better then when I first started. I mean. I saw Rusty Wallace almost lap the field my first race I went to. That sure doesn’t happen anymore.