Monday, April 23, 2007

Phoenix was the first "real" test for the CoT

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE Copyright © 2007 Mark J. Rebilas

I call it the "retrocar," because the boxier shape reminds me of the cars NASCAR ran prior to the late nineties, and because it features the flying wing--dissimilar to the one's we saw on the Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Daytona in the late 1960's and early '70's, but a flying wing, nonetheless. Phoenix International Raceway proved to be the first real test of the CoT, as we got to see the new design raced for the first time in a venue where aerodynamics are important.
What we saw was consistent, for the most part, with what we expected. The drivers who can adapt quickly adapted. According to the drivers and commentators, the new design "takes finesse" to race successfully, therefore, the drivers who are known for car control--Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and (I hate to say it) Jimmie Johnson--performed well, while drivers who just floor it and hope they miss everything in their way, like Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle, did not perform so well.
Something else that we noticed about the retrocar is that the bump and run technique is not all that effective in the retrocar. When a car approaches the rear of another car, the rear end does not lift as easily as it does in the conventional cars. Depending on what kind of racing you like to see, this could be good or bad. It seems that "clean" racing is forced with the retrocar, but that doesn't seem to affect the performance of the top drivers. The bump and run has been a trademark of The (Jeff) Gordon, for instance, but not being able to use that technique did not keep him from winning.
I didn't want to see Scott Riggs' bad luck continue. He was taken out early in the race in an accident not of his own making. I have a lot of confidence in Riggs, who has yet to win a Cup level race, and he has shown it while on the track. But he has had some bad luck this season that rivals the well known bad luck of drivers such as Greg Biffle and even Jeff Gordon. Whoever has the Scott Riggs Voodoo Doll, please put it away. Riggs has done nothing to deserve it.
Photo Credit: Copyright © 2007 Gary A. Vasquez

I really didn't want to see The Gordon win, and, for a little while, Smoke was giving him a good run for the win. But, when it came down to it, it was a good race, Gordon had a great car, we got to see two of the greatest race each other, and we were all touched by Gordon's tribute to Dale Earnhardt.
For a while, when the CoT is raced, there will be only six or seven drivers who will be in contention for the win, which isn't all that different from what we have seen so far this season in all the races. The other drivers will eventually learn to finesse the car through the turns, and the field will gradually become more even. Unless I'm mistaken, which admittedly I often am, the next CoT race is at Richmond, but I'm looking forward to the road course race at Watkins Glenn. That should be the next real test of what the retrocar can, or cannot do.

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