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Montoya’s penalty shows just what a bad race car the CoT is

By admin | July 28, 2009

By Richard Allen

As has been well documented this week, Juan Pablo Montoya lost the Brickyard 400 when he was busted for speeding on pit road. However, the focus of this column is not on the penalty itself but what happened after the penalty was handed down.

Montoya clearly had the best car in the field on Sunday. He started from the outside of the front row and quickly went to the top of the leaderboard. He led a total of 116 laps, which is more laps than he had led over the course of his entire career. However, the pass through penalty he was given dropped him to 12th place on the track.

Despite being the fastest car all day, Montoya was unable to make up any positions. Even after a late race caution bunched the field, he remained mired outside the top-10. Once back in the dreaded ‘dirty air’ Montoya was unable to move forward, even with a car that had been so dominate.

How is it a car that strong all day was unable to pass even the cars at the back of the top-10?

There is one simple answer to that question, and that is the Car of Tomorrow. This aerodynamically flawed car is so dependent on clean air that drivers are unable to make any moves or gain on the car in front of them if the air is the least bit disturbed.

Montoya helped demonstrate just how bad of a race car the CoT is in two ways. In ‘clean air’ he was able to get out to a big lead as his car dirtied the air for those behind. Then, once in the pack, his car stalled once it was affected by ‘dirty air’.

Montoya only gained one spot, up to 11th, before the finish of the race and that came only after a hard fought bumping match with Joey Logano.

During some of the early races staged with the CoT, the outlook seemed promising. However, in that first year the car was used primarily on short track and road courses where aerodynamics do not play such a major role.

Since the car has become the full time vehicle in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the racing has become more like a follow the leader parade than a competitive affair.

Even worse, the Car of Tomorrow is killing the competitive nature of this sport in more ways than one. Not only is the racing bad, but the car offers no real brand distinction. For many the Ford vs. Chevrolet vs. Dodge vs. Toyota rivalry is part of what makes NASCAR interesting. Since each car looks exactly the same except for the stickers placed in the grill and headlight areas, there is no real point to that competitive argument anymore.

NASCAR is wasting away. The television ratings show that. The multitude of empty seats at almost every track shows that. If some things are not changed soon, there will come a day when sports historians will look back on what went wrong with NASCAR and the CoT will be a major part of the answer.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

11 Responses to “Montoya’s penalty shows just what a bad race car the CoT is”

  1. Joe Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 7:04 am

    I’ve been saying this since the inception of this “thing” they call a race car. In fact, this has never been a car at all, it’s something they (I use they but it’s truly Brian’s brain-child) came up with as a reaction to Dale’s death. This “thing” has no correlation to a car at all. I contend that it is more of a go cart than a car. It looks nothing like what Detroit or Japan puts out (win on Sunday, what the heck am I buying on Monday?) They went way over board with this after Dale’s death, the HANS and other internal changes to the car were sufficient enough. The last I looked, going 180 mph in a car was inherently dangerous. Not that I want anyone hurt but the “danger” has always been part of the allure. I still remember Yarborough exiting Daytona over the fence in turn 3 (I think). They didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water then. Note to NASCAR, remove your head from where you sit soon before you drive out what’s left of your core fans. I myself haven’t attended a Sunday race in years. Friday and Saturday show’s as well as the local track’s efforts are MUCH more enjoyable.

  2. Ken Fleming Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 7:08 am

    What went wrong with NASCAR? Big money coming in and Brian France.

  3. Ginger Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Exactly! The COT is the worst thing that Nascar has brought to the drivers, crew chiefs, and fans. It (along with a few tracks) may be the death of Nascar.

  4. Clint Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I agree… the COT needs work. However the Nationwide COT is a much better product. I read what Carl Edwards said after driving the Nationwide COT and he said that is drove like a racecar is supposed to drive. It relies on springs, not bump stops. Maybe NASCAR will wise up if the nationwide car really is better and move some of the construction of that car to cup.

  5. Rick Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 10:07 am

    This isn’t a new problem, many times with the twisted up old car people like Jeff Gordon for example who were pulling away suddenly couldn’t go anywhere. Scott Wimmer was driving away from the field in the Nationwide race with no one able to catch him and he couldnt win in the end. In the old car Jimmie Johnson once led 300 of 400 laps at Charlotte. While in the end Tony Stewart won with fuel mileage he certainly passed many cars at Pocono after starting at the back. This isnt the good old days of Earnhardt, Wallace, Waltrip and Elliot and 4 other cars on the lead lap where a guy could go from the back to the front more easily as there might have been 12 good cars. I recently heard replay of an Atlanta race from late nineties where Earnhardt Sr and a host of others got out of their cars saying you couldnt pass at all so this isnt a COT problem.

  6. chad holt Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I think they need to take some horesepower away from the cars. A safer car is a good idea, but they need to give some adjustability back to the crews. The gear rule, and every rule limiting suspension travel or springs has taken away more and more passing.

  7. Mike Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    I absolutely agree! I was at the race this weekend and it was very obvious that the only chance one has to win is to somehow end up the leader. Once up front you could just ride and no one would be able to pass you. It reminded me of another classic series called IROC. Sure Indy isn’t known for great racing, but come on people, race fans aren’t so stupid to realize that the on track product doesn’t relate to the showroom anymore, nor does it provide the entertainment worth spending hundreds of dollars and hours of time commitment on.

    Having said that, it is also obvious to this race fan that the Nationwide COT is going to be a test that addresses all the above. The Ford Mustang that I saw online today is just awsome! Something I can identify with and maybe purchase if my driver wins in one on Sunday. Hopefully it will race as good as it looks.

  8. Rick Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    If you take horsepower away you get essentially create more restrictor plate type racing. The nationwide drivers complain about this all the time as they cant afford to get off the gas and drivers like Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart are dead against it for that reason. With no gear rule you would be back to teams spending millions of dollars on developing 10000-11000 rpm motors which they were doing a number of years previous to the gear rule. A wider tire might help but it will take time and the COT looks more like a car out of the showroom than the cars they used to race which were like twisted wings so whoever had the best aero won.

  9. Dennis Marsh Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    There are racers and racecar drivers. Now there are people running around and around for POINTS. Boring for money. I saw my first RACE in 1964 and cheered for a winner. Now with the COT and the points race I don’t even care who won much less waste my time watching. When racing is about good finishes, where does the racing come in? Dead last!!!

  10. ralph Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    what don’t you guys understand? no matter what shape cars are the lead car will always get more air. they had same problem with last car and will have same problem with anyother car.

  11. Dennis Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Remember before COT when Ford would complain that Chev and Pontiac had more downforce? NASCAR would then let Ford add another half an inch to the front valence. And on it would go.

    This was the wrong direction. If a valence change should have been made to “even” them up then remove half an inch from the others.

    Aeropush has been a problem for a long time and moving races from short tracks to super speedways just gives us more Aeropush 500’s.

    Saturday’s Nationwide race at ORP was excellent! Great side by side racing. These are the types of tracks that should host most of the Cup races, in my opinion.