NASCAR: Back on Track
Although seven cars were tested at Talladega in October, there has still been some tweaking and adjusting with the result being this car. Drivers are being encouraged to draft with the new car to see how the bumpers line up, how the back end reacts, how the visibility is affected and how comfortable the car is to drive. Thirty-five will participate in this session.
SPEED is carrying the practice session all three days and will broadcast repeats for those of us who work during the day.
The new car is the biggest change in car design since NASCAR launched the Car of Tomorrow, a design many drivers hated. NASCAR Vice President of Competition, Robin Pemberton, has said he thinks they really got it right.
The look of the car is the biggest difference fans will notice. The cars actually look like a Ford, Chevrolet or Toyota, as can be seen in the comparison photo. No longer will you have a generic front with just a brand logo to determine one from the other. The decals with the car number are no longer in the headlight area, meaning the car looks like it has lights. No doubt this is an attempt to get back to the "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" mentality of the early years of auto racing.
The branding continues throughout the vehicle, with the rest of the components being brand sensitive, including quarter panels, fenders, door panels, etc. They are now manufacturer produced (excepting the rear deck panel) and each one carries a verification stamp. While that won't help the new or casual fan identify the brand or their driver, the drivers' names on the top of the windshield and a sponsor logo on the roof will help fans identify their driver while the car is travelling in excess of 190 mph.
Of course, NASCAR wouldn't develop a new car without considering safety features as well. The integrity of the roll cage has been increased by adding bars in strategic locations, better protecting the driver in the event of a crash. Additionally, the roof flaps have been reconfigured and increased in size to attempt to keep the car from becoming airborne. As we have all seen, the car of tomorrow did not eliminate that and far too many cars did lift off, especially on the Superspeedways. Although we won't know for sure how the car will react in a crash, developers are confident they have a better, safer car for this season and forward.
SPEED is getting set to offer their first look at on track testing in a short time, so I'll watch a bit before work. If you are around and love you some NASCAR, post your thoughts here.
Oh and I would be remiss if I didn't keep you up to date in the drama that is Jeremy Mayfield. Mr. Mayfield called into an talk show recently in which Brian France was participating. He wanted to Mr. France to know that he wanted to return to racing, and had been unable to speak with him any other way. Mr. France told him, in no uncertain terms, that there is a procedure called the "Road to Recovery" that he must follow, just like any other person in violation of NASCAR's substance abuse policy, just as they have said from day one. It seems Jeremy Mayfield still feels he is deserving of preferential treatment.