|The Gen 6.1 car may be faster by itself; slower in a group|
NASCAR and its teams have spent a fair amount of time during the short offseason testing and developing the Sprint Cup race car that was all-new last year. Call the updated car Gen 6.1. Last year drivers complained the Gen 6 car was too hard to drive. The new car features more downforce, which means they’re easier to drive.
The Daytona tests were disrupted by rain, but indications are the car may be faster on its own, but slower in a pack. And with NASCAR focused on avoiding the two-car tango and bump drafting seemingly at all costs, it remains to be seen how those packs will shape up.
"The cars were just a touch slower," Brad Keselowski admitted following the test. "For the season there will be a lot of different technology, a whole different rules package which should shake things up yet again. It mostly has to do with the ride heights of the car and the front suspension is quite a bit different.
"It should make the cars faster. The intent, from an industry standpoint, is to make the cars race better in traffic.
“That’s the intent."
Other things to look for at Daytona:
The Chevys will be fast – again.
Among the Chevys, Richard Childress Racing seems to undergoing a revival. Not only was Austin Dillion – and the No. 3 – the fastest in preseason testing, teammates Brian Scott and Ryan Newman were next in line.
Despite a revised front end and grille for the Fusion, the Fords aren’t showing much, if any, improvement. If the Blue Oval suffers through another year like it did in 2013, the future of Jack Roush as the lead Ford team might be in question.
All of Toyota’s eggs are apparently in Joe Gibbs’ basket. Michael Waltrip Racing is putting on a brave face, but is closer to needing life support than getting into victory lane.
One thing for sure. If NASCAR decides further changes are necessary, it won’t hesitate to make them, right up to the start of the race.