By admin | December 12, 2012
By Richard Allen
The first NASCAR Sprint Cup test with the “new” version of the Car of Tomorrow has ended at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and reports out of the track indicate that speeds are faster than ever before. While that may sound like great news, considering that race cars are supposed to go fast, it may not actually be such a good thing.
Last year, NASCAR announced that it would change up the car it had first introduced in 2007 at the Bristol Motor Speedway. The car, which offered no real brand indentity beyond that of stickers to resemble headlights and tail lights, has remained relatively unchanged over the course of its five year existence. Essentially, teams have been racing against one another with the same car during that time.
Now, the CoT, or Gen 6 car, has been reshaped to resemble cars sold by the manufacturers. The fenders, grill and other cosmetic features have been manipulated to provide for these differences.
Please do not be fooled by the changes in the outter body. While that move will create a more stylized machine that the auto companies will no doubt like better, the inner workings of the car have seen little change. The chassis and mechanics of the racer will remain unaffected.
So when reports came out of the track on Wednesday morning that record speeds were being turned in, it indicated that the racing in 2013 will very much resemble that of 2012. And as memory serves, much of that proved to be little more than a high speed parade ending either with a contrived caution or a fuel mileage coast.
Reporter Dustin Long(@DustinLong) tweeted testing speeds from the practice after the conclusion of the Wednesday morning session. Kasey Kahne was the fastest among the fifteen drivers to post a time with an unofficial track record of 193.771mph. Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick followed close behind.
Jeff Gluck(@Jeff_Gluck) added via Twitter, “Kasey Kahne had what would have been a track record lap today, and he said he knew right away it was the fastest he’d ever gone around CMS.”
Had that tweet instead read that rather than a track record, Kahne’s top speed had been slower than in years past and the car was more difficult to drive, there might have been hope for better racing in 2013.
Further, Gluck reported that driver Denny Hamlin said of the 2013 season, “In my eyes, there will be no less than six or seven track records broken.” Hamlin attributed improved grip of the car due to the aerodynamic alterations as the reason for his projection.
As anyone who has read this blog very often may already know, this writer believes the cars are already going too fast to allow for good racing. The CoT has proven to be far too dependant on the air and as a result has lent itself to parade racing as cars can’t close on each other due to the “wall of air” that hinders the progress of the trailing machine.
Cars go fast because of two main factors, horsepower and aerodynamics. To me, when I hear that cars are running faster than ever before immediately after a tweak of the bodies, I fear that aerodynamics have become even more of a factor than they had been.
Instead of the new bodies helping the situation of aero-push, it appears on first glance that they may have actually hurt the situation.
While it’s great that the cars will now have brand indentity, something I have long argued in favor of, there needs to be changes made to improve the racing by allowing for more passing on the track. Those changes would have to come from underneath the sheet metal.
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