NASCAR calls it “Generation six.” Fans call it “the new car.” Either title is correct as the sport has created cars that look generally similar to that of the ones people see rolling around on the streets.
Keeping the “stock” in stock cars was NASCAR’s goal while manufacturers attempted to create the new bodies and that they did. The final of the three manufacturers unveiled their final designs last week as Chevrolet will us the “SS” instead of the Impala which they had previously used since the “Generation five” car hit the track in 2007. Toyota will stay with the Camry while Ford will keep the Fusion logos on their cars as well.
The Charlotte Motor Speedway marked the location of the first true test for the new car even though just 16 teams participated within the test session. The new look race cars made their way around the 1.5 mile oval on Tuesday afternoon as speeds were actually slower than those during qualifying for the Bank Of America 500 in October.
Regan Smith, driving the No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports subbing in for Jeff Gordon, had the fastest speed clocking in at 190.215 mph which would have put him in the 26th starting position for the October race. Ironically enough, that’s exactly where Smith qualified even though his speed was just a drop slower than the one he recorded during the test session. Matt Kenseth made his public debut in a Joe Gibbs Racing machine and was nervous enough to over-rev the engine during the session, but was able to clock in the third fastest lap and ran 61 laps in the session.
Even though speeds were down during the test session, drivers stated that they felt the downforce on the 2013 car was rather impressive compared to the old style car.
Testing isn’t nearly over for the “generation six” vehicle. Drivers and teams still have the opportunity to voice their opinions to the sanctioning body which is presumably “listening to any input the teams give and they’re keeping an open mind.”
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.