Whitesburg KY

Grading the Gen 6 car

Steve Mickey

Steve Mickey

When NASCAR unveiled its new Generation 6 race car before the beginning of the 2013 season it was the culmination of months of work by a host of interested parties. The safety of the driver is always the first concern anytime a new model of car is introduced in the sport, but the sanctioning body also wanted a car that was more competitive on the racetrack.

The car has more than proven that it was the safe car that NASCAR envisioned when it first began designing the car. It has also proved to be more competitive than the Car of Tomorrow (COT) model that it replaced, and that is primarily because of the added speed that was found in the model.

The Gen 6 is all about speed, and no stat backs that up more than the 19 track qualifying records that were broken. That number might have even been higher if not for the four qualifying sessions that were rained out. Eleven different drivers broke at least one track record with Jimmie Johnson breaking a season high three.

The COT was known as a model that made passing difficult — and in the process made racing a follow the leader type affair — but the Gen 6 proved that a driver could once again make a pass for the lead and while back in the pack trying to work up through the field. There were 127,306 green flag passes this season with 971 of those being passes for the lead. That’s an overall increase of 17,398 more passes in 2013 than in the 2012 season.

There were 17 different winners this season up form 15 the year before, with five of those wins coming from drivers that had gone winless last season. The average margin of victory this season was 1.267 seconds, the lowest average since 2005. The number of races that ended with a margin of victory less than a one second was 20, which is an increase of three over the previous season.

The new model also made more teams competitive on race day as the number of drivers that led at least one lap during a race was up four from last season to 46. The percentage of cars that finished on the lead lap was also up.

Just as important in the design of the new car was the outward appearance of the new model, especially to the manufactures. The COT took away much of the individual characteristics of the different manufacturers to the point that you couldn’t really pick out the different makes of cars on the track. The manufacturers wanted the new car to look more like what they were trying to sell in order to get something back on the tremendous amount of money they spend in the sport.

The new Gen 6 returned the individual look back to each manufacturer. In 2013, fans could easily pick out a Ford, Chevrolet or Toyota on the track, much to the delight of the manufacturers.

The one number that really had to be pleasing to the manufacturers was the 83-percent perception that the cars that were being raced in the sport looked similar to the new cars in the showroom. That’s an increase of 55 percent from the year before, but fans not only liked the new cars but are also interested in buying what they see on the track. Seventy-six percent (up from 49 percent in 2012) of the people being interviewed said they would be interested in buying one of the cars they saw on race day.

There you have it, the numbers to support the new Gen 6 as having a successful debut in the sport. The competition level was up and the manufacturers were happy with the results. So with a little offseason tweaking, 2014 should be an even better year for all involved.

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