Daytona 500 Kicks Off NASCAR Season

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by AAAintheBeltway, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Big weekend for stock car fans. Saturday saw one of the most horrific wrecks in memory on the last lap of the Nationwide race. A car was sheared in half at the finish line, with a tire and some suspension components bouncing over the catch fence and landing in the stands, where several fans were injured, two critically. Amazingly, the car's engine ended up coming through the fence and landing in the walkway at the foot of the stands. For race fans, it was a once in a lifetime sight.

    The signature event, the Daytona 500, was largely overshadowed by hype about Danica Patrick, the GoDaddy poster girl who somehow took the pole position for the race, an unprecedented feat for a female driver. She drove a steady if cautious race and finished 8th, after running in the top 3 for much of the race and being in the third slot on the last lap.

    The race marked the first running of the new generation stock car, the so-called gen 6 car, which replaced the unloved Car of Tomorrow model. The COT was an ugly brick of a car, easily the ugliest car of any racing series in the world. The new car at least bears some surface resemblance to the brands it is meant to represent.

    Unfortunately, the car's debut was a total dud, producing the most boring 500 in recent memory. The combination of aerodynamics, bumper shape, etc created a car that had zero ability to pass. This issue of cars not being able to get by a car running in clean air has been a big problem for NASCAR recently and creates tedious, boring races that are often decided on fuel economy. It is beyond disappointing that they apparently did nothing to fix the problem and seemingly made it worse.

    In other news, the race was won by Jimmie Johnson. I wonder if anyone cares?
  2. I'm not a huge NASCAR fan, so I didn't know about the new design. But I think it's kind of interesting.

    It's kind of irrelevant, but I remember a sportscaster explaining how the hood on a race car is identical to the corresponding car which is available on the basic car lot. But that's where it pretty much stops. Everything else is obviously hugely modified.

    As far as the question, "does anyone care?" goes, I can't help but think of the MASH episode where BJ asks Hawkeye if he's going to the cockroach races later. And Hawkeye responds "Nah, people who go to those things only want to see a cockroach crash." Still cracks me up.
  3. Nascar seems now even MORE like watching a model train go round-and-round the track on your living room floor.
  4. That is always going to be a problem at the restrictor plate tracks, Daytona and Talledga. If all the engines are basically equal, the tires are equal, the suspensions are equal, the aero is equal, there isn't a lot of room to be faster than someone else. It comes down to driving and more specifically drafting. That and being in the right place at the right time.

    At least at Daytona the cars are running very close together, which adds an element of excitement. The newer mile and a half tracks however tend to not bunch cars up. So you get a bunch of cars which can't pass each other running around the track for three or four hours.

    I think they desperately need to do something to make it more compelling. I know people who are involved in NASCAR at a high level and they think everything is just fine. They know I am an old school NASCAR fan and are dumbfounded when I tell them I prefer Formula One now.

    I have some ideas, although of course the NASCAR brass weren't interested. They need to make it possible for trailing cars to pass the lead car. Now, it is very hard on superspeedways. The lead car gets clean air on his front, which seems to give them enough of an edge that they can't be passed.

    I see two things that could be done. One, reduce the effects of aero. Or refine it so trailing cars have a slight edge. Two, make the motors bigger and more powerful. As it is, drivers can go around tracks wide open all day, maybe lifting slightly in the turns. The result, particularly if combined with reduced aero effects, would be a bigger delta between straightaway and corner speeds, which in turn would make driver skill and nerve more of a factor. This just happens to be the way the cars worked whne NASCAR was growing wildly in popularity.