With Television ratings and fan interest in rapid decline, it became apparent to Brian France and his cronies at NASCAR, there were some changes needed. Cookie cutter 1.5 mile D-Oval race tracks, squeaky clean drivers with high dollar sponsors, and stock cars that can’t be identified through body style have led a once fledgling sport into ultimate boredom.
NASCAR completed their final 2012 testing of the new Sixth Generation Car at the Charlotte Motor Speedway last week, with drivers and crew chiefs giving it a big thumbs up. Steve Letarte, crew chief for the #88 National Guard/Mountain Dew Chevrolet, driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. indicated that they now have three distinct makes of cars his nine year old son could recognize. There will actually be a Ford, Chevy, and Toyota that can be identified.
With speeds in excess of 193 Miles Per Hour around the speedway, drivers were impressed with the performance charastics of the new car. Kasey Kahne indicated that he could feel where the throttle was at all times, and he was fast through the corners. The car should break some qualifying records next year.
Rain cut the testing session short, but teams will return to Charlotte on January 17th and 18th for a final test before they head down to Florida, and the beginning of Speed Weeks.
The COT Car, which started out to be the Car of Tomorrow, and later changed to the Car of Today was on the drawing board at the time of Dale Earnhardt’s death at the 2001 Daytona 500. It was designed to increase driver safety, and cut costs for race car owners. It was first used in a race at The 2007 Food City 500 in Bristol, and was slated to run 26 events in 2008, but teams were struggling to field both types of cars, and the COT went into full service at the beginning of the 2008 season.
This was the first time in history that a car was developed by NASCAR, and in my opinion, it was a total flop. It was like they had turned the old IROC Series into full time reality. Jeff Gordon, for one, never was able to figure this beast out, and was the number one reason the four time Cup Champion has went in the tank for the last five years.
Bill France Sr. started NASCAR in 1949 under the premise of running cars that the average person could buy at their local car dealer’s showroom. In fact, in the early days, you could buy a new car, and in a couple of days, have it ready to take a green flag at the local race track. The car’s performance on the race track was always a product of the manufacturers and the supporting companies like Goodyear, Monroe and Sunoco, not a product of mandates from NASCAR.
I’m looking forward to the new year and new cars with hope they will help resurrect a dying sport. I want to see the seats on the backstretch at Daytona International Speedway filled again like they were in the late nineties, and I want to see racing that isn’t decided by fuel mileage or late race cautions(wink wink), for debris on the track.
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