By admin | November 4, 2013
By Richard Allen
If you want to raise the ire of many fans and former fans of NASCAR, just bring up the topics of ‘cookie cutter tracks’, bad racing tires and the slightly upgraded version of the Car of Tomorrow(Gen6). And when you bring all three of these often despised subjects together in one place at one time, it’s sure to not end well.
On Sunday at the Texas Motor Speedway, that is exactly what happened. A perfect storm of all three elements mentioned above blew into the Fort Worth area and left an afternoon filled with bad racing in its wake.
The statistics from the race indicate that there were 28 lead changes in all. That sounds impressive until it is considered that a great many of those “passes” took place during pit stop exchanges, either under caution or during green flag exchanges. Add to that lack of excitement the fact that one driver, Jimmie Johnson, completely dominated the event by leading a total of 255 of the 334 laps run on the 1.5 mile track. Several of those lead changes not directly related to pit stop exchanges were simply the 48 car retaking the lead after having given it up for a few laps due to differing pit cycles.
The so-called ‘cookie cutter’ tracks are frequently responsible for less-than-stellar racing. Tracks such as TMS, the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Chicagoland Speedway and the Kansas Speedway are among those noted for what more closely resembles high speed parading than racing.
Nothing happened on Sunday to change anyone’s opinion on that.
And to make matters worse for this particular race, the tires supplied by Goodyear and/or the setups being used by teams caused drivers to have to nurse their cars around the track to avoid blowouts and excessive wear.
After Kyle Busch hit the wall early in the event, his crew chief radioed the driver to say, “It’s not a camber problem. It’s a tire problem.” A number of other drivers and crew chiefs complained about the tires throughout the day, but it has to be considered that sometimes those very drivers and crews do things that cause the issues.
Whatever the case, tire wear was a problem in Texas. And the babying drivers were having to do so as to avoid serious problems did not help the racing at all.
And lastly, the Gen6 car has not improved racing on these type of tracks at all in 2013. Even NASCAR chairman Brian France admitted after the race in Charlotte last month that the sanctioning body is looking into ways to improve the machine’s race-ability. While the look of the new car is certainly an improvement over the old CoT, there is actually little difference between the two under the skin. That has led to a season filled with the same aero-sensitive racing that has dominated the sport since the original version of the car made it debut.
Sunday’s race in Texas was not one that will be remembered for edge-of-the-seat excitement. It is more likely that it won’t be remembered at all as many who intended to watch may have fallen asleep or tuned away.
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