By admin | August 2, 2009
By Richard Allen
Based on the few pictures and computer projections available, NASCAR’s version of the soon to be used Nationwide Series Car of Tomorrow looks promising so far.
It appears as though NASCAR has taken the criticism of its Sprint Cup CoT to heart and has listened to the suggestions made by competitors and manufacturers. The pictures released so far show that the car addresses several concerns many have had.
For one, and most importantly, the cars actually look like something made and sold by the manufacturers. Someone could watch a race, see their favorite driver win, and then go out on Monday and buy a car that looks like the one that pulled into victory lane. The only things to distinguish one Sprint Cup CoT from another are the stickers placed in the grill and headlight areas.
The body shape of the Nationwide CoT prototype cars take on the contours of their showroom counterparts. The Sprint Cup version has all cars shaped exactly the same, no matter the manufacturer, and none looking any more like the vehicles in the showroom than the other.
Another thing NASCAR has done is to open the door to the possibility of getting away from four door sedans and moving toward so called ‘pony cars’. Ford will use the Mustang body style while Dodge will employ the Challenger. Reportedly, Chevrolet will use the Impala SS, which is the company’s Sprint Cup vehicle. Toyota looks to use the Camry, but it may be the Solara version of the Camry.
Fans have wanted NASCAR cars to not only look like the street version of their cars but also to look racier than a car more suited to going to the supermarket.
The only potential problem I can see with the Nationwide CoT is that it could make the Nationwide Series more popular than the Sprint Cup Series. Just consider all the elements that could lead to such a possibility.
For one thing, the drivers are essentially the same in each series. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, and even Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are among the numerous drivers from NASCAR’s top division who often race in the second series. Fans might well enjoy watching their favorite drivers driving showroom similar pony cars more than watching them drive identical looking sedans.
The pony car idea might also cause the Nationwide Series to surpass the top series in popularity. Most people, especially race fans, have those sporty cars type cars as their dream cars. It would be a lot of fun to see the car one would dream of owning out on the track doing something one would dream of doing.
Lastly, and most importantly, the car could turn out to be a better race car than the Sprint Cup machine. Fans want to feel like they are getting their money’s worth. To get their money’s worth means seeing cars pass one another. That has been a rare thing in the Sprint Cup Series since the inception of the CoT.
I really believe there would be more passing if the cars were not all exactly alike. Aerodynamic differences would create more of a coming and going effect, like that of racing in the 1980s.
I commend NASCAR for being willing to do something different with its next version of the Car of Tomorrow. Hopefully, they have learned lessons from obvious mistakes made in the Sprint Cup Series. And more, hopefully NASCAR can learn lessons from the Nationwide car that can make racing better in the top division.
If not, they may find that they have done too good of a job with the Nationwide Series car. Those shorter more intense races with cars people want to see on the track may give rise to a more popular series.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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