New NASCAR ‘Gen 6’ Car Needs Lots Of Work

Charlotte, NC (March 4th, 2013) – Less than 30 laps into Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix, it was obvious NASCAR’s new Generation 6 racecar had a big problem – the dreaded ‘Aero Push.’

Few terms strike more fear into NASCAR officials, drivers and fans alike than Aero Push. A byproduct of how the air travels over a pack of cars, Aero Push is one of the biggest deterrents to passing.

No passing, no racing.

No racing, nobody’s happy.

NASCAR’s new ‘Gen 6’ racer may look pretty cool, but it has sputtered out of the gate competitively producing little passing and racing action. At Daytona last week, four hours of single-file action were attributed to engine horsepower killing restrictor plates. At Phoenix Sunday, the cars had plenty under the hood – they just wouldn’t turn thanks to a combination of aerodynamic and tire limitations.

Simply stated, after more than 800 miles of single-file, conga-line competition at Daytona and Phoenix, NASCAR’s new car has yet to exhibit an ability to pass. Regardless of configuration – with the body all slicked up and restrictor plate choking off the engine at Daytona – or at Phoenix Sunday trying to create downforce with a slab side and giant rear spoiler worthy of a dirt late model, we’ve yet to see this new car really race.

Or, at least, race well.

The epic lack of passing in the first two races of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season have made those events as exciting as attending a baseball doubleheader and seeing a pair of 1-0 shutouts. You still had a good time and the games held your interest for the most part, but you didn’t exactly see the kind of action you had hoped for.

This kind of lack of action racing – devoid of any real sustained excitement or suspense – certainly isn’t what NASCAR had hoped for after introducing the Gen 6 car with a highly leveraged public relations tsunami of oohs and aahs. Seemingly anyone connected with NASCAR has weighed in how the new car is great for the sport now that it more closely resembles the vehicles fans are parking in their driveways.

That’s cool. NASCAR wants to better connect with the fans and – their corporate benefactors – the car manufacturers.

I get that.

Heck, I like the look of the new cars too and stated so in this very column. But the new vehicles have to be more than great looking. They need to be able to surpass everything and anything connected with the car you have in your driveway.

Duh – that’s what makes them special. It’s what makes them racecars.

That said, did the NASCAR Marketing Department Kool Aid trump the guys in the Research and Development building by pushing a ‘work in progress’ concept vehicle into race production too soon?

That’s a question for another time, but after the Daytona and Phoenix Sprint Cup events, it’s clear NASCAR’s new Generation 6 car has some significant competition challenges to overcome. Given those answers may not come until half of the 2013 season of races (tests?) are completed, NASCAR fans should probably be prepared to watch a lot more single file Sprint Cup events for awhile.

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