Ever since the COT was introduced at Bristol Motor Speedway in March of 2007, NASCAR has had to put up with the complaints of both drivers and fans. Up to this point the sanctioning body has turned a deaf ear to any such complaints but now it appears that it is willing to listen.
The Car of Tomorrow was introduced to the series as a much safer car for drivers while at the same time making it cheaper on the owners and increasing the competition level on the track. There is no questioning the claim that the car is safer as we have seen many serious collisions where the driver got out praising the car for keeping him safe, and as far as making it cheaper to race, I still believe that owners will spend every dime they have in search of increased performance.
The wing on the COT that replaced the spoiler that was used forever in the sport has always been the source of displeasure both with fans and drivers. Fans just don’t like the look of a wing on the back of a Cup car. To them, it just doesn’t have the look of a racecar in the sport.
Drivers all want a racecar that is easy to handle and, ever since the spoiler gave way to the wing, both drivers and crew chiefs have been chasing the handling at every stop on the schedule. NASCAR has made the wing one of the areas on the COT that has very little adjustability, which has played havoc for teams when trying to set a car up for a race.
Sprint Cup’s fan base has showed signs of eroding over the last couple of seasons and now NASCAR must begin to take some steps to improve the show that it puts on the track each week. It may have taken the first step when it began recently meeting with owners and drivers in an effort to identify some areas that need to be addressed to improve the sport.
It seems that maybe the one area in line for a change will be the move back to the spoiler away from the use of the wing. NASCAR officials say that it will not happen before Daytona, but it could come early in the season after some testing has been done. There is no guarantee that the return of the spoiler on the COT will give or take away downforce from the car, but it will give teams more to work with.
NASCAR is expected to make an announcement concerning the spoiler this week during the annual media tour in the Charlotte area. That apparently will not be the only announcement, as talks with the owners and drivers have also identified some areas that NASCAR will be addressing.
Restrictor plate racing at both Daytona and Talladega has always been tough to police as the line between keeping the cars on the track and being launched in the air is razor thin. NASCAR put restrictions on where bump drafting could take place last year, trying to keep the cars off of each other as they entered and exited the turns to go along with the rule of no passing below the yellow line. Both of these rules were introduced for the safety of the drivers.
Apparently NASCAR is looking at doing away with both of the rules and putting it back into the hands of the drivers. There is no doubt that doing away with both of these rules would put some more excitement back into the race, but it would also put more pressure on the drivers as bump drafting and racing below the yellow line have been the causes of many battered racecars in the past.
The changes that we have discussed today are not set and maybe will never be put into play, but it does show that at least NASCAR is willing to listen and is open to change. Sprint Cup still produces the best racing of any series competing, but like every other sport, change can be good. It wasn’t that long ago that we never heard of a three-point shot in basketball or a designated hitter in baseball.