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« Fans Weigh In With Their Thoughts on Phoenix Race | Main | Debate Over NRA Sponsorship of Texas Race Represents Bigger NASCAR Issue »

Drivers Lament Inability to Pass With Gen-6 Car

By admin | March 5, 2013

Brad Keselowski’s Gen-6 Ford Fusion

By Richard Allen

The brand new Gen-6 race car now being used at the Sprint Cup level of NASCAR has two points paying races and multiple preliminary events in its history, and there has not been a lot of passing to speak of during the competition held so far. However, of course, the car is not only in its infancy but the restrictor plate races held in Daytona did not offer an accurate gauge of the car’s performance for the bulk of the series’ schedule.

That said, the racing on the one-mile Phoenix International Speedway this past Sunday played out like so many events contested by the new car’s predecessor that it was difficult to tell the difference. While the car does have a more stock car looking appearance as well as weight and other mechanical improvements over the old Car of Tomorrow, the Gen-6 still seems to be very “aero-dependent” causing advancement in traffic to be difficult.

After Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 in Phoenix, several drivers sounded off on the new machine.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement for this car,” declared Denny Hamlin. “Obviously we saw a great finish. It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna take a little while for us to get these cars driving as good as we had with the Generation-5.”

It’s fair to note that Hamlin suffered engine troubles with his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota earlier in the weekend which caused him to start at the rear of the field and battle through traffic most of the day. Eventually, the driver of car No. 11 made a bold move on the final lap and finished 3rd, just inches behind Jimmie Johnson at the finish line.

“I think these cars probably drive better than any race car I’ve ever driven in my life by themselves,” said defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. “And they’re probably the hardest to drive of any race car in traffic.”

Keselowski ran near the front most of the day and led a total of 16 laps before coming home in 4th.

“I like this car,” Dale Earnhardt, Jr. offered. “I think this car suits me better and we’re just getting started with it. I think we can take this thing and make a pretty incredible race car.”

It’s no secret Junior never adapted well to the CoT. After winning once during his first season with Hendrick Motorsports back in 2008, he went winless until just last season. Earnhardt finished 5th in Phoenix following his runner-up effort in the Daytona 500.

“I think everybody loves these cars,” 7th place finishing Matt Kenseth said in his Phoenix post-race interview. “The goal now is just to get them so we can pass. They’ve got a ton of down force right now but I’m sure NASCAR’s going to adjust as they go and try to make it a little easier for the rear cars.”

Kenseth’s point is that the front car in a group seems to have a distinct advantage as it gathers all the down force it needs to keep its front end planted to the track while at the same time throwing up a “wall of air” that essentially blocks the trailing cars from advancing.

“The cars are definitely aero-sensative,” added A.J. Allmendinger on the Race Hub show on SPEED this past Monday night. “They’ve got a lot of front grip by themselves but once you lose that front down force it’s hard to get your nose under somebody.”

The two biggest complaints fans, drivers and teams had against the CoT was that it offered no brand identity and created in-line or “parade” races that were frequently settled by track position and fuel mileage. Thankfully, the Gen-6 has addressed the brand identity issue nicely. However, as Hamlin pointed out, there is still work to be done on the competition aspect of the car.

Hopefully Kenseth will prove correct when he guesses that NASCAR will continue to tweak on the car to allow for better competition on the track.

Topics: Articles |

16 Responses to “Drivers Lament Inability to Pass With Gen-6 Car”

  1. Sue Rarick Says:
    March 5th, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Gawd I hate to sound like a broken record but get rid of the splitter, get rid of the side skirts and lower the rear spoiler and the cars will stop being aero sensitive.

    The CoT and present car are to dependent on trying to create as low a pressure under the car. This works fine as long as the car is in clean air and quickly drops off as soon as the car is in a lower air pressure area (behind another car). This is so simple even BF and MH should be able to grab that concept.

    On the other hand, TV ratings are up and nothing will be done till the ratings drop. Nascar is in the business of marketing NOT racing.

  2. Eddy Says:
    March 5th, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Why not give them more power and a great big wing…..o wait thats a different series….

  3. Russ Says:
    March 6th, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Every driver in every pro racing series in the world says two things: he needs more power and more downforce.

    Let me say it one more time - parity is not racing! If you make everybody equal this is what you get.

  4. Richard Thibodeaux Says:
    March 6th, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Nascar will probably come out and fine these drivers for their comments this week. Then when the fans say that the drivers are to vanilla nascar will wonder why. Da

  5. Bill B Says:
    March 6th, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Give it time Sue. A few more races like the last two and the ratings will plummet. Have faith. LOL

  6. The Mad Man Says:
    March 6th, 2013 at 8:58 am

    The new car was supposed to end all the woes that it’s predecessor had. Lack of identity and aero problems. It was supposed to be the panacea and bring everyone together to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. It hasn’t worked. Just like the car it replaced. It was supposed to do the same thing. NASCAR has promised and hyped both cars and both have failed to deliver. The results? Fewer fans at the track because of poor racing. The poor racing comes as a result of the dreaded word “parity”. Every car is supposed to be equal. Just like the IROC cars of old. I will give the IROC cars one thing. They at least looked like what was being driven on the streets. You can’t say the same for the last two “new” cars NASCAR has rolled out. I agree with what Russ wrote. Parity is not racing. When will NASCAR realize that?

  7. Tom Says:
    March 6th, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I don’t think it would matter what is done to the cars, it’s still going to be hard to pass. Why? Simple, there are so many great teams and drivers today. The way I see it Hendrick has 4 cars that COULD win ANY race, Childress has 1, Stewart-Haas 2, Roush 2, Penske 2, Gibbs 3 and Michael Waltrip Racing 2. That’s 16 potential winners EVERY race. Then, the rest of the cars for those teams are no slouches, either, with the rest of the field not too far behind. All that adds up to it being very difficult to pass. Add in the fact that it’s senseless to beat the crap out of your car for the entire race by trying to pass someone who’s just as fast as you and you end up with little side by side racing. No matter what NASCAR does I just don’t see it changing.

  8. GinaV24 Says:
    March 6th, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Many in the media immediately blamed the fans for the style of racing at Daytona. See, it’s all the fans fault that the car doesn’t handle for crap and can’t pass. Gee, did we engineer this design? Do we buy the tires? Are we driving the cars that NASCAR has provided to the drivers?

    The answer to all those questions are NO.

    This is NOT what the fans want - we want to see cars being able to pass during the race.

    Anyone remember the really fun finishes at Darlington with Craven & Busch or with Harvick & Gordon at Atlanta? Coming to the line - side by side - racing for the win! Oh wait, that wasn’t the COT or the Gen6 car. No, that was the twisted sister, but baby, it was a race car.

    As Russ and Mad Man have said, parity is NOT racing. Parity is boring.

  9. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    March 6th, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I thoight Kumbaya was something you ate on rice! We as fans are not as stupid as NA$CAR wants us to be and we have yet seen anything that offers a different point of view. Parity has killed the racing in NA$CAR and why we think it will is our bad. Thank God the dirt tracks close to me are opening soon!

  10. ron hill Says:
    March 6th, 2013 at 11:40 am

    ok race fans the tires are the reason the cars are not passing ……soften them up so they wear more and passing will come back………..hey where is hooshier tires firestone tires or any other competing tire companys……….talk about throwing a curve ……..so goodyear you make a great safe tire just a littls faster wear please

  11. Russ Says:
    March 6th, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Just curious - if Goodyear makes a tire that wears more - and everybody gets the same tire - will the racing be any different?

  12. Scott Beasley Says:
    March 7th, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Russ, when the tires used to wear we used to see better racing, IMHO. The reason I think we would see better racing is because of driving style. Some drivers, Kyle Busch and Brad Keslowski for instance, will go all out and are harder on equipment that some other drivers, Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte, that go a little easier on their equipment. This difference in driving style will have some guys be faster but wear out their stuff earlier in a run, where some drivers will still have some good in their tires at the end of a run and be able to run cars down.

  13. Chris Lanko Says:
    March 7th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    NASCAR just fined Denny Hamlin for those comments he made. Looks like the drivers ar just supposed to keep their mouths shut and not voice an opinion. And the idiots at NASCAR wonder why thei are losing fans in droves. Unfreakin real!!!

  14. Jim Says:
    March 7th, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Like an NBA wait for the last couple of minutes.

  15. Lewis Cox Says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Ok make sure the engines look the same on the outside and stop checking the inside of engine. Let them do whatever inside and will see engineering make some faster and some blow up. You will see exciting races and fair to one as the other

  16. Bill Says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Daytona was the worst race since they put plates on the engines at NHIS in 2000 and Jeff Burton took the pole and led every lap and almost nobody passed anybody… except now it’s being designed into the cars, so you have the big pack and the winner is the best dodger… or the luckiest SOB who avoided the wreck.

    Boring, boring, boring.