Since the spring race at Bristol in March of 2007, the Sprint Cup Series has been competing in what has been known as the car of tomorrow (COT). The COT took the safety of the racecar to another level as time after time we witnessed wrecks that in the past drivers could have been seriously injured, only to walk away. Underneath the sheet metal of the COT was an array of safety advancements to ensure the safety of the driver, but on the outside the car had lost its individual manufacturer identity.
Beginning next season the Sprint Cup Series will begin using the next generation of racecar referred to as the G6. The new car got its first real test last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a two-day test that left everyone participating praising the potential of the new model. The first thing that caught your eye when the cars unloaded and roared off pit road to begin putting in some laps was how easy it is now going to be to identify the individual manufacturers on the track.
Now fans both at the track and watching on TV will be able to spot a Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion or Chevrolet SS. The front ends now resemble what fans can see in a dealer’s showroom and that has to be very pleasing to the manufacturers that pour so much money into the sport.
The test only attracted 16 teams as many teams thought that the test lacked any real value as the car was not the final version of the car that the teams will take to Daytona in February. NASCAR has said in all probability there is still some tweaking to be done on the car before the final specs are sent to the teams and some reports have even surfaced that the final car may have 200 less horsepower than the cars campaigned with this past season.
Some of the biggest names in the sport were absent from the test including Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer. Michael Waltrip Racing and Roush Fenway didn’t have any of their teams at the test while some other organizations like Hendrick Motor Sports sent Jeff Gordon’s team but used Regan Smith to fill in as the driver.
Every driver that did take part in the test came away saying that the new car had the potential to be faster that the old COT. Kasey Kahne broke the track record that had just been set by Greg Biffle in October when he turned a lap of 193.771 mph. The record will not stand as NASCAR only recognizes speeds set during a NASCAR Race weekend. Another factor that might have added to the new speed was that the test was done in 40-degree weather that produces more grip and allows the engine to produce more horsepower.
Other than the return of the manufacturers’ front and rear end on the car, fans will immediately notice that the cars will once again be running the big spoilers that at one time were a mainstay in the sport. This G6 features a seven and a half inch high spoiler that actually slows the cars down somewhat going down the straightaways but allows drivers to keep more speed going into the corners.
The spoiler is the one area on the car that will definitely be alike as NASCAR remembers all too well the problems it had in years past when one manufacturer claimed that another make of car had an unfair advantage on the track. That would lead to the sanctioning body having to change the spoiler size for different manufacturers to make sure the old playing field stayed level. Every manufacturer will run the same exact deck lid with their spoiler so no advantage should be gained.