By admin | April 23, 2013
By Richard Allen
On Monday evening, I posted a piece in which I pointed out that NASCAR’s Sprint Cup division had had some great racing until a pair of so-called ‘cookie cutter’ tracks came up on the schedule. After single-file racing with virtually no passing for the lead in Texas and Kansas, it appears as though the gains made by the new Gen-6 car and the sport’s personalities have been lost.
So what’s the solution? Or, is there a solution? Could it be that we as fans are doomed to watch a high speed parade racing every time NASCAR visits a 1.5 mile facility?
I don’t think so. It is my belief that there are changes that could be instituted that would improve racing at all tracks, not just the ‘cookie cutters’.
The reduction of 150 pounds in weight on the Gen-6 from its predecessor was definitely a step in the right direction. But more can be done.
First, the cars are far too fast and far too aero-sensitive. When cars reach top-end straightaway speeds of 200mph or more on a 1.5 mile track, the drivers are doing little more than just hanging on to a car they are driving at full throttle all the way around the track. Racing each other is difficult at those speeds.
As Todd Bodine said after he crashed out of last Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, cars need to be made unstable enough that drivers are forced to let off in the turns. One way this can be accomplished is to get the front splitter up off of the track. Close up television shots show that the front splitter on Sprint Cup cars is stuck to the racing surface much likeÂ a vacuum cleaner on your living room carpet.
If a little air could get under the car, it would take away some of that stabilityÂ from every car, including the leader. And causing drivers to lift in the turns also brings more driving ability and less engineering into the equation.
Second, tires need to give up more. As has been the case in most races run over the past couple of seasons or so, tires are so durable that teams opt to not even change them on some pit stops. This is difficult because there is a perfect formula in which tires give up some grip over the course of a run but do not blow out. But, that formula is not easy to find. A great deal more tire testing would be required at many of the current tracks to find just the right compounds.
Another fix for the ‘cookie cutter’ speedways would be to park the paving machines. The racing at Fontana was the best that track has ever produced, and much of the reason for that was the fact that the surface was worn and bumpy. Such conditions cause drivers to search the track for the best way around as cars slide through the turns. Just because the asphalt starts to look a little gray and a couple of dips develop doesn’t mean the entire track needs resurfaced.
And finally, allow the most innovative crews to tinker a little. NASCAR, in my opinion, has far too many rules. The Penske rear ends and Chad Knaus’ C-posts were innovations that ought to be allowed rather than punished. With so many parts and pieces dictated, there are essentially 43 drivers out there driving 43 similar cars. And in turn, teams have spend thousands if not millions to find the slightest edge. That means small teams will never have a chance to catch up with the Hendricks, Gibbs and Roushs of the world.
I believe implementing these changes over a period of time would make for better racing all tracks, including the 1.5-2 mile facilities. TheÂ taking away of down force,Â differing set-ups, tires that give upÂ on worn surfaces would cause there to be ‘comers and goers’ throughout the course of each run and would create lead changes and passing for all positions.
The changes made to the Gen-6 in terms of brand identity, slightly different aerodynamics due to body style changes and lighter weights are steps in the right direction. A few more steps could make for much better racing.
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