The development of the brand new Sprint Cup Series car for the 2013 season appears to be headed in the right direction.
After two test sessions at Charlotte Motor Speedway and last week’s Preseason Thunder in Daytona, NASCAR officials are pleased with the Gen-6 car’s progress during this off-season.
Although weather limited teams to only a single day of testing at Charlotte on Friday, even the truncated track time proved beneficial to the process.
“It's definitely just another step in the launch of the Generation-6 car,” Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said during Friday’s Charlotte test held in frigid conditions. “But there's probably more cars here today that I'll term as real race cars with full manufacturer's steel bodies and the correct components, deck lids, hoods, and everything else that goes with it. For a lot of the teams, the test is probably more real, real life than what some of our previous tests here have been.”
Darby said having a for the most part solidified rules package has helped teams greatly in the development department.
“I think from the rules package wise and specification for the cars, all of that is pretty much settled down,” said Darby. “We had most of that dialed in from our previous test here in December, so everybody has taken those specifications and going forward with them and just trying to do the best they can now as we get ready to start into the real season.”
While for the most part drivers have been overwhelmingly positive about the Gen-6 Cup cars, not everyone sees a major difference from the previous model.
“I feel like it’s comparable to last year,” said Bobby Labonte. “I can’t say there’s a huge difference in a lot of ways. It’s going to be different now than it will be in six months. It will change a little as it goes. When I drive it, it feels like a normal thing, not like a big change.”
NASCAR has made no bones about the desire to improve the racing in general with the new car but particularly on intermediate tracks. Many fans expressed their discontent over their perceived lack of competition at 1.5 and two mile tracks so there is a concerted effort to address those concerns.
“Some of the things that we've worked on, where we get our down force, how we evacuate air from up under the car if a team chooses to do so with different ductwork and cooling hoses and so forth, that's all in an effort to make the cars run a little bit better in groups or in packs,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition
“We put our best foot forward, and the goal was to be better than we were a year ago, and I think we've achieved that. But you can't we're not going to lead with our chin here, but we know that we've worked hard, we know that we've made gains, we know the car is better than the last car. There's more drivers out there that like this car better than the last car, and when you put all of those things together, it should equate out to be better racing.”
Jeff Burton agrees with the notion of somehow finding a solution to tighten the competition and improve the intermediate track product.
“We've got to find a way to get the cars closer together on the (intermediate tracks)," Burton said. "How do we do that? The only way to do that is to make them drive better. Slow them down a little bit, make them drive better and try to get them closer together so you have more action."
But the veteran understands there is no magic bullet to make that happen including the introduction of a brand new racecar.
"We've got to have realistic expectations," Burton said. "Some races are going to be boring. Some football games are boring. Some basketball games are boring. But the average race has got to be a fun race to watch.”