What Did the Kobalt Tools 400 Teach NASCAR About Generation Six?
The Generation Six body style had its first true test during the Kobalt Tools 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The whole concept of the “Generation Six” car is to make the racing as fast, safe and competitive as possible. However, after seeing the Generation Six car on a mile and a half track in race conditions for the first time, some things may need to be evaluated by NASCAR.
25 of the 43 cars on the race track were running within three-fourth tenths of a second of each other. That’s a huge improvement from the old car as that 25 would usually be 15 or so. Experience proved to be key for NASCAR drivers throughout the day. With a slick race track and high temperatures, cars were sliding up the race track as often as they were going around the turns. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who won the Las Vegas Nationwide Series race in 2012, slid into the wall twice during the day, but didn’t sustain any severe damage.
The Generation Six car performed rather well during the Kobalt Tools 400 according to race fans. Many felt as if the race was highlighted by the battle for the win which was comparable to the final race at Rockingham where Matt Kenseth edged out Kasey Kahne just like he did during Sunday’s Kobalt 400. However, some fans didn’t like the long green flag runs which was the only flaw for the day.
The long runs caused only 19 cars to finish on the lead lap. It’s not too low of a number considering it was the first race with the new body style, yet it shows that plenty of teams need to go back and do their homework. Smaller teams and inexperienced drivers had their work cut out for them throughout the race. Several cars that were able to run within a lap or two of the leader last season finished five-seven laps down which was borderline pathetic. Teams come to the races to compete and when the major teams are a few giant steps ahead of the little guys, it causes a bunch of corruption on the race track.
Jimmie Johnson lost the lead at one point because he got stuck in lapped traffic. Even though there were cars running within a few tenths of the leaders, for some reason, about 18 or so other cars just couldn’t keep up with the race track. It could’ve been because of the track conditions, but it could’ve also been because of the lack of horsepower from the small teams.
NASCAR’s Generation Six car had the ability to enter turn one at roughly 200 mph and turn three at 205 mph. How crazy is that? The race wasn’t too eventful. A few cars spun out, but no major damage was suffered by any drivers. Also, there were only three start-and-park cars. That problem may have been solved as teams continue to find sponsorship now that the economy is turning around.
NASCAR will have to continue to evaluate the Generation Six car at the mile and a half tracks. They need the competition to be as close as possible. That’s why NASCAR is by far the most competitive racing series in the world and they just can’t have cars seven laps down. It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to the teams. But then again, who said racing was fair?
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.