Nascar: Preseason Thunder Day 1

By Les Bailey


Matt Kenseth
Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

It’s great to turn on the Speed Channel, and actually see some racing activity. Preseason Thunder got underway on Thursday morning from Daytona International Speedway, and the afternoon session was carried by the Speed Channel. Race teams are testing all of the specifications with the new Gen 6 car prior to the season opening Daytona 500 next month. This test session will give NASCAR, the manufacturers, and race teams enough data to see if the initial package will work for race day. It probably won’t, and everyone will have time to make changes prior to speed weeks.

I love the look of the new car, and believe it may be what NASCAR needs in order to restore racing back to what it was prior to the COT Car. The new Gen 6 Car has all of the safety features COT had, and yet retains individual styling so we, the fans, can actually tell the difference between a Ford Fusion, and a Toyota Camry.

Now that they have gotten rid of the boxy look by tapering the nose and deck lid, the car will generate about 500 lbs less down force. The use of carbon fiber to make the hood and rear deck will lighten the top part of the car, moving the center of gravity lower to the race track. This should give the driver the feel of the older cars, and allow for more door-to-door racing.

The hold down flaps have been enlarged by adding about 2 1/2 inches to the height and 4-5 inches to the width. This will help to keep this slicker, more aerodynamic car on the track in the case of a spin. It will help scrub the speed off, should the driver get out of control.

Jeff Gordon said in an interview that he liked the feel of the new car, but was concerned about its’ ability to draft and run in a pack. We all saw over the past few years how poorly the COT ran in a pack. That was the main reason a driver could put some distance between himself and number-two when he could get out in clean air.

Matt Kenseth, in his new ride at Joe Gibbs Racing, was the leader in the morning session, posting 46.691 lap times at 192.757 mph. Marcos AmbrosDanica PatrickJeff Burton, and Paul Menard rounded out the top five. 2012 Sprint Cup Champion, Brad Keselowski, ran 31st with 47.451 lap times. It will take the Penske Racing people a little time to make the switch from Dodge to the new Ford Fusion. New Penske teammate Joey Logano ran a little better in the morning session with 47.229  lap times at 190.561mph, but Joey is also new to the Ford Fusion, coming from a Toyota.

Not being a huge Ford Racing Fan, I had a feeling Matt Kenseth would have a marquee year in 2013 driving the Toyota Camry. After watching him lead the morning test session, and listening to him in an interview, I am now convinced that Matt will be a factor all year. He seems to be very excited about his new opportunity, and I am looking forward to watching him race this year. Fans need to watch out for the Home Depot Toyota – I think Matt Kenseth is on a mission.

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