By admin | April 22, 2013
By Richard Allen
After Sprint Cup races at the Bristol Motor Speedway and the Auto Club Speedway, many fans and bloggers alike were hopeful that a corner had been turned and the days of follow-the-leader parades among aero-sensitive race carsÂ might beÂ over.Â Then, the so called ‘cookie cutter’ tracks reared their heads.Â After recent racesÂ on the 1.5 mile speedways inÂ Texas and Kansas, it appears as though the hopes of being done with parade racing were premature.
Granted, the new Gen-6 car, which began use this year in NASCAR’s top division, is very much a work in progress. But nonetheless, the follow-the-leader racing has returned full force these past two weeks. In each of those events,Â a very fewÂ cars have absolutely dominated the laps led statistics.
In Texas, eventual winner Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. combined to lead 313 of the 334 laps in that race. That’s a staggering 94% being controlled by two drivers. By my unofficial account, there were only two passes for the leadÂ over theÂ entire race that were not the result of cautions or pit stops.
This past Sunday in Kansas, the story was much the same as the previous week. Matt Kenseth dominated the laps led statistic by showing the way for 163 of the 267 circuits. Truex, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Carl Edwards combined for another 91 trips around the D-shaped track. And again, it was cautions and pit stop exchanges that brought about the majority of lead changes.
Quite simply, the leader has a tremendous advantage on these tracks. The cars are so fast and so aero-dependent that those running in his wake have very little chance of making up ground and passing. That was quite evident in the closing laps of the Kansas race. While it looked as if Kasey Kahne had the fastest car on the track, he couldn’t make a move to get around Kenseth.
I still have hope that the Gen-6 will make a difference on the ‘cookie cutters’, and it still very well might. Although I believe there are too many rules and too little allowance for experimentation, I thought the lighter weight in the new car would help. But it appears, at least early on, that such is not the case.
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