By admin | April 1, 2014
By Richard Allen
The past three weeks of racing on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been some of the best in the sport in a number of years. There has been passing of the leader and all other positions through the field as well as some exciting extra-curricular activities. And each of those events have had a couple of things in common- tires that wear away over the course of a fuel run and tracks that have “character”.
It took long enough but it seems as if some key elements have finally come together to produce an interesting product on the race track in NASCAR.
As has been called on this and other sites many times over the past few years, tires that actually wear away during a fuel run are essential for good racing. Such brings into play each driver’s ability to manage his/her tires and equipment to get the most out of them over the course of the full run. Also, it causes drivers to move around on the track to find grooves that will optimize tire wear and provide for more speed over a longer period.
This creates a situation in which there will be ‘comers and goers’ rather than every car running essentially the same speed for lap after parading lap. Granted there was an issue with side wall failures in Fontana, but the team that won the race indicated their belief during the event that drivers using the track apron to excess helped cause those blowouts. All in all, Goodyear is to be applauded for their efforts this season.
Aside from the fact that tires have contributed to better racing so far this season, the tracks used during the past three events have played a role as well. The half-mile in Bristol, Tennessee has uniqueness written all over its steep banking as no other facility on the circuit, or even the world resembles its Colosseum-like atmosphere. Tracks that are not like all the others cause teams to employ differing setups, which leads to better racing.
The Auto Club Speedway in California may be one of those often dreaded D-shaped ovals, but its worn and bumpy surface provides character. And again, that causes teams to use differing setups and drivers to seek out new lines around the track which in turn creates better racing.
The Auto Club Speedway needs to have a large dog on its security team. The dog’s only job should be to bite anyone who attempts to bring a paver into the facility.
And of course, there was Martinsville last Sunday. The flat, paper clip-shaped short track offers no opportunity for competitors or announcers to use the term “aero” at anytime during the 500-lap distance there. How refreshing is that?
It remains to be seen if this trend will continue throughout the entire season, especially on the ‘cookie cutter’ tracks. But for now, I’m enjoying what I’m seeing.
This weekend in Texas is a big one foe the sport. If the racing is good there, we could be set up for a great season. If the tires are hard and the racing is in parade formation, we may not have made as many gains as it might seem.
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