Taking into the fact there are thirty five NASCAR Races with the final ten being Chase Races I have made a decision to break the first twenty five races into quarters and review each quarter then the break the Chase Races into another review at the end of the season. Stating this NASCAR has finished the 1st Quarter of the Regular Season. So, let us take time a look back and review what we have observed.
In previous Blogs I have reviewed each race and I have agreed with NASCAR, Drivers & Teams and along with most of the Talking Heads that the styling of the New Gen6 Car is a hit with all. In the past two years the NASCAR, Teams and the Three Manufacturing Groups have worked hard to get the product on the track looking more like the product on the showroom floors. There once was a feeling in NASCAR of Win on Sunday, Sale on Monday and with this Gen6 Car that feeling is returning. The changes are apparent to all the fans since most fans are very knowledgeable about their sport. Although the fans understood the reason for safety and competitive balance NASCAR had to change the Gen4 Car and went to the Car of Tomorrow (COT Car) they did not like the Wing or the box look. The Wing went away but the look of a tank stayed. So, anything would have been an improvement over the COT and the Gen6 is a major improvement but still kept. the safety features of the COT Car. So with this I have given the Gen6 Car a Rating of an A–. Couldn’t be any higher for the reason if NASCAR can change the side panel on the trunk to clear polyurethane plastic shield why couldn’t NASCAR change the Spoiler to clear polyurethane plastic and give that feeling of no spoiler while allowing the following driving better visibility.
Now let us review the performance of the New Gen6 Car in the first five races of the 2013 season. The races in FACT have been BORING if you only just take in the Gen6 Car to factor or base the review of the 1st Quarter. So, my rating of the New Gen6 Car in Quarter Number 1 is an F.
The Daytona 500 saw limited passing and a Lot, I mean A LOT of follower the leader racing with the only passing for the lead was which driver was going to be the first out of the pits. Not until the final laps with a caution did the fans see any excitement. But the pass for the lead and win was done in the pits. Rating on Daytona was an F.
Then NASCAR went to Phoenix and the dreaded “Aero Tight” word showed up. With drivers trying to answer the reporter’s questions politically but Denny Hamlin said in his post race interview; “The Gen6 car is Aero Tight. And I had to be in a defensive mode all race and that was very hard to do, for over three hundred laps. The left side tires where so hard you could have not changed them all race and that’s not right” and that statement and others from Denny was too much of the Truth for NASCAR so, NASCAR fined Denny. But here are a few of the things other drivers stated. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said in his post race interview the Spoiler was to big making it hard to pass and Brad Keselowski the current NASCAR Champion remarked it is the best race car I have ever driven by itself but in a pack it is the hardest car I have ever driven. Finally Matt Kenseth stated can’t get close enough to even pass. I gave the Subway 500 at PIR a rating of F due to the fact to very little passing for the lead.
Lets’ move onto Las Vegas, a race was effected by Mother Nature with a Test Practice on Thursday to help the teams learn more about the Gen6 car was followed by a rain out of race practice on Friday leaving the teams in a daze with sunshine on Sunday on a bumpy and slick track. The action on the track was not due to a Good Gen6 Car but from teams guessing on the setup with a few teams making the correct changes while most teams struggled. Las Vegas Race Review was a C that high of a rating was because of Mother Nature not the Gen6 car.
Now to spring race in Bristol “Thunder Valley”. After repaving and a change to “Progressive Banking” the track lost its appeal and fan support. Then last summer the track officials did some gridding on the upper groove to try a rescue the track and bring it back to the Bristol of Old. I don’t think the restoration project is done yet they still need some more gridding but now move down to the middle/center groove. With the Bristol race and the Gedn6 car we started seeing the teams push the camber on the tires causing a lot of tire failures making it the only excitement on the track was watching tires blow and cars hitting the wall. That was until Denny Hamlin put Joey Logano into the wall giving the NASCAR fans the feel of the Old Bristol when the action and drivers tempers kept the race fans on the edge of their seats and gave fans something to talk about for weeks. Fans wonder which driver was giving or getting revenge and when would the payback occur. Race rating was a C because we finally saw tempers at Bristol again not because of the New Gen6 Car.
The fifth race of 2013 is the Spring race at Fontana where fans saw more of the same from the Gen6 and FOX trying to keep the TV ratings, when Larry McReynolds stated; “In five weeks we have had five different race tracks and this new Gen6 car has performed and has given us five great races”. But then Darrell Waltrip remarked a more political statement saying “The New Gen6 Car is right now ahead of the teams where the teams are still trying to learn and catch-up their notes on this car”. But this race track surface at Fontana is old and in fact is original and has never has been resurfaced since the track open. Making the track slick, bumpy and allowing drivers with an “Aero Tight” Gen6 Car use every inch of the track including the track’s apron. Allowing the drivers to try the “Old Slide Job” on their competitors. The Gen6 car would start on the apron and then slide all the way to the wall just trying to make a pass giving an ill handling Gen6 car the room it needed to make a pass. Teams are showing how hard it is to get the New Gen6 car to turn by again pushing the tire’s camber. Look at the restarts a see how many drivers are spinning their tires for the reason of camber. The tire patch is not set for a flat surface, the tire is on its rim causing poor traction on flat surfaces but better corner handling. I gave the Spring Fontana race rating a C not because of the new Gen6 but because of the final laps when tempers again boiled over between Denny and Joey. See Bristol what you did to NASCAR by resurfacing the track and changing it to a “Progressive Banked Track” the drivers left “Thunder Valley” in a good state of mind. The Joey and Denny feuds have again put excitement back in racing. Tempers always where HOT! after a The Old Style Bristol Race and the stands where full. Keep working on the track and now grid down the center groove. I do not want any driver hurt but I can’t blame Joey for driving hard into the corner for the reasons Joey is driving for a new team wants to show them his passion to win and Denny is part of Joey’s old team then again Bristol was still fresh on Joey’s mind. And now we may have a Tony and Joey feud a brewing. Maybe this is what the New Gen6 Car needed.
Easter weekend is coming and I understand it is a time for reflection and spending time with the family. But, if was a Crew Chef or Team Owner I would setup at least two days of testing to get a better handle on the setups this New Gen6 Car wants and needs.
Finally NASCAR be honest with your fans. We all know NASCAR is worried about ratings, ticket sales and their sponsors. So, NASCAR wants to keep a lid on their problems and maybe just put a band-aid on their issues instead of being open and honest. The Loyal NASCAR Fans deserves nothing less than NASCAR being honest. We know it is a NEW CAR just give the Fans HONEST FACTS. Not political answers.