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Motorsports 101 Debate: How Did the Generation 6 Car Perform in Its First Season?

December 4th, 2013 at 12:30 AM
By Mark Eddinger

Last offseason the NASCAR world awaited the debut of the Generation 6 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Fans were hoping for a game changer that could make the on track racing better than what the Generation 5 Car of Tomorrow provided. Motorsports 101 debates whether the Gen-6 car lived up to expectations in its first season.

Good Debut, Room For Improvement – By Clayton Caldwell
The new Generation 6 racecar that NASCAR created definitely changed the racing in NASCAR. Not only did the new Gen-6 car look more like a racecar, a lot of drivers felt that the car raced better than the other car. Passes were up but lead changes were down.

The Gen-6 racecar was a gigantic step for NASCAR, which had just created a new racecar prior to the 2007 season and made that Generation 5 racecar full time in the 2008 season. However, some manufacturers forced NASCAR’s hand after saying they would pull out of the sport if NASCAR didn’t give them more brand recognition. With that we had the invent of the Generation 6 car. 
The Gen-6 car graded out at a six on a 1 to 10 scale. It definitely made the racecar look like racecars again and they weren’t hard to look at like the COT car was, so that was a step in the right direction. The manufacturers seemed happy with the look of the racecar and that was a huge part in the process of the Gen-6 car.
However, the racing part of the car was a little disappointing. When NASCAR created the Generation 6 racecar the car was 150 pounds lighter than the previous car which meant speeds would go up due to the less weight in the car. With the elevated speeds clean air became an even bigger factor as leaders would punch a big hole in the air and the leader would pull away. With that being an even bigger factor the car just didn’t run very well on the cookie cutter racetracks, which is why NASCAR is looking at making changes to make the car more competitive for 2014.
The car ran fine on the shorter tracks this season. However, with the elevated speeds some tracks relied more on aerodynamics than they did in the past, which is unfortunate because stock car racing was built on beating and banging and leaning on each other through the corner. Just look at the finish in 2003 between Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch at Darlington. Do you think those guys were worried about aerodynamics?
For 2014 we’ll see improvements in the Generation 6 car but it is still far from being the best car possible. NASCAR will see what these changes do and work at it from there for the 2015 NASCAR campaign.

A Lot of Work Ahead – By Mark Eddinger

The first season of the Gen-6 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was one that was not fully satisfying to the fans who wanted to see better on track racing. The one thing that the new car did succeed at was giving the manufacturers true identity on the track with the look of their car matching the showroom.

Other than that though the Gen-6 car did not live up to expectations. To NASCAR's credit they know that improvements and changes need to be made but they did not throw major tweaks at the cars during the 2013 season which would have made the teams scramble all season. The testing and work that is being conducted this offseason though needs to pay off with results on the track in 2014.

The 2013 season saw 127,306 green flag passes which was the second most of any season since loop data was introduced in 2005. That number was 17,398 more than the COT's final season in 2012. That number does show that passing was up during the races which is what fans want to see but still the Gen-6 had negative stats as well.

The were only 1,033 lead changes in 2013 which was down from 1,611 in 2012. That stat shows that the Gen-6 car still has its issues with the dreaded clean air dilemma in NASCAR. When a driver gets a lead off the initial restart they seem to be able to pull away with passing at the front of the field still being very difficult. Clean air meant maybe even more with the Gen-6 car than with the COT and that is something NASCAR will need to focus on.

The Gen-6 car is very fast and that is a good thing. Slowing the car down is not the answer to create better racing and NASCAR knows that. The package for the Gen-6 car will be worked on throughout the offseason and hopefully the combination that NASCAR comes up with will provided a solution to the clean air issue which is not an easy one to fix by any means.

Season one of the Gen-6 car was not a failure and provided the building block for what will hopefully be a very competitive car for years to come once everything is worked out.

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Tags: Car of Tomorrow, Clayton Caldwell, Gen-6, Generation 6, Mark Eddinger, Motorsports, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

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