Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Kurt Busch agrees with Dale Earnhardt Jr. that NASCAR needs to tweak the car-of-tomorrow to improve racing...but is anyone from NASCAR listening?

   Kurt Busch: on the road to another championship? He's Penske-backed, and he's back in championship form. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   BROOKLYN, Mich.
   Kurt Busch, NASCAR's 2004 tour champion and in the running for a second championship this season, has added his voice to Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s in support of changes in NASCAR's car-of-tomorrow to make it more raceable.
   With this sport's TV ratings continuing to spiral downward, with corporate sponsors cutting back in a major way, with the fall football season approaching, and with the prospect of yet another less-than-thrilling fuel mileage race here, pressure is increasing in the sport's haulers for NASCAR officials to do something.
   Earnhardt says something needs to be done "immediately" to put more spark into the racing, and he says until NASCAR went to double-file restarts in June "95 percent of the racing wasn't worth buying a ticket to."
   The next moves have to be up to NASCAR, though officials have tried to insist all season that the racing itself is just fine.
   NASCAR in late May called a major meeting of teams and team owners to listen to their complaints and their suggestions.
   However in the nearly three months since then, nothing has really changed, except the addition of the two-wide restarts.
   Busch says the new car could use some short-term fixes and some long-term fixes.
   "In the town hall meeting there were opinions the drivers and owners expressed," Busch says. "Some were short-term fixes; some were more of a long-term project.
    "I think there needs to be some more short-term things looked at.
    "One great idea was from Greg Biffle, who said 'Let's put more left-side weight in these cars.'
    "Anything that has left-side weight on an oval track is going to turn better. We used to run Late Models with 58 percent left-side (weight percentage); these cars (COTs) only have 52 percent.
    "But we can't keep making these cars heavier. Goodyear struggles to find the right combination with the heavier car and higher center of gravity.
    "So weight is an issue I think that can be addressed short term. We need to get some weight out of the cars, and we need to get it on the left side.
   "What I'm seeing -- based on tests results from Atlanta, Bristol, Dover and Indy -- from a year ago to this year is that Goodyear is doing a better job finding combinations, and that's going to continue to pop up in the second half (of the season) with better tire combinations.
    "It's an on-going battle.
    "We (drivers and teams) all said this car is going to be a fight. And NASCAR is very stubborn sometimes."

     All this is being played out in a general U.S. sports environment that doesn't seem to be swinging in NASCAR's favor, and the next four weeks could be critical to the sport's fall chase run. This sport, to put it mildly, isn't carrying much momentum at the moment:
   -- A late-race pit road speeding penalty on runaway leader Juan Pablo Montoya, the Formula One star, killing his chances for an historic victory and casting a big shadow over the tour's second-half 'season-opener.'
   -- Then consecutive Sunday-to-Monday rain postponements at Pocono and Watkins Glen resulted in some of the lowest TV ratings of the season, a 1.8 and a 1.7.
   -- A gas mileage race here – highly anticipated – would likely not do much to boost ratings. And this Detroit-area track is in the heart of one of the hardest hit economic areas in the country, which could hurt the crowd.
   -- Next weekend's stop at Bristol could be crucial – if it doesn't come too late for the sport – but the Bristol track, since redesigned and made much smoother, hasn't had the same sparkling, heated action the old surface used to create.
   --  Then NASCAR has thrown in an 'off weekend' for Cup, unusual at this point of the season, and will be running a Nationwide race at Montreal….where last summer's Nationwide race was run partly in the rain and then finally called short of the distance. How well a Nationwide race from Montreal will work to pump up the Cup tour is unclear….particularly with the National Football League kicking things off, and with George Gillett, the NASCAR team owner, having sold his Montreal Canadiens, taking away one key marketing angle.
   -- Which brings the sport to the Labor Day weekend, where the Southern 500 once played out at Darlington, until NASCAR moved that tour date to Los Angeles, where it has proven a flop, because of extreme heat and so many other end-of-summer entertainment options for the Southern California crowd.
    Busch just tire-tested at Atlanta for Goodyear for the Labor Day weekend 500, transplanted from Los Angeles after weak crowds at California's Auto Club Speedway.
   And he says the Atlanta 500, scheduled to be run at night, should be interesting, because Goodyear bringing new tires.
   Busch, who won the spring race at Atlanta, says "The tire test was interesting because of the hot temperatures and the different tires they gave us.
    "We were slip-sliding around quite a bit. You're going to hear that an awful lot in practice.
   "Our practice (Labor Day weekend) is from 1 to 4 in the afternoon, and then we race at 7:30 Sunday night.
    "At 7:30 the sun will be just getting behind the mound in turn one. I think turn three and four will still be in the sun, three and four are going to be real slick at the start of the race.
   "Then when 8 o'clock rolls around, turns three and four will be into the shade -- and it's a whole new track. It gets all of its grip back. It gets its fun factor back.
    "We tested from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m., but most of focus was when the sun went down. We hope we found a better combination for the teams.
   "I didn't think there was anything wrong with the tire myself, because we ran really well there in the spring.
    "But they wanted to change the tire. They had it in their mind they were going to change the tire.
    "So it is a different tire going back, both the right side and left side. And I'm hearing the new left-side is something we didn't even test, but something they've brewed up since we've been there. 
    "It's going to be a battle to get your car dialed in on a slick, hot surface during the day and then hopefully be good for the night-time speeds.
    "The double-file restarts at Atlanta? That's going to be the most fun any driver can have. Atlanta is very racy."



Dale is right, but again, Nascar is in denial again. Look, when you have a car as dominate as Juan Pablo's was at Indy and he goes back to what eleventh position and only gains one spot in ten laps or so that tells you right there that this car will not run or race good in traffic and Nascar needs to fix that whatever it takes. But, like Helton says, they "don't have a problem" it's just Jr. complaining cause he's not running good. Right!

Is NASCAR Listening?

Talking to NASCAR is like talking to a wall. Unless you have zillions of bucks to blow, then they listen. Otherwise, they refuse to admit that this abomination on wheels is a complete and total failure when it comes to performance. It was supposed to eliminate aero problems. It's made them worse. It was supposed to eliminate the restrictor plate. They're still using plates. It was supposed to save the teams money. It's cost them more money than the old car did. The only thing it has delivered on is the safety aspects of the car.

Stay Classy Mike Helton!

One of your drivers makes some very salient points about improving the COT in a professional and calm manner and your reply is that he's just whining because he's not running good? What a jackarse, that Mike Helton, and I used to think he was a pretty good guy.

Look, I'm not even a Junior fan....Tony Stewart is my driver and he's leading the points. But who I root for shouldn't matter in this discussion. The COT is boring and the racing is boring. BORING.

If Mike Helton isn't going to listen to the fans and he isn't going to listen to his drivers, then screw him and the sport. Football season is here. I can find better things to do.

COT Problems Stem From The Concept And Premises Behind It

The concept of the COT is the first half of the car's problems - the concept is of a car that has lower downforce, uses a wing instead of a blade spoiler, and has a huge gap in the airdam apparantly to dissuade teams from running soft front setups - if they grind off the splitter the car's handling is ruined. This concept is absurd on its face.

It's a concept that stems from flawed premises about racing - all the time they had high-downforce cars it was heard over and over how you can reduce aeropush by taking away downforce because when you have less downforce to start with you lose proportionately less downforce in dirty air and thus can get more mechanical grip, etc. It didn't work with the 5&5 rule of 1998 and it didn't work with Son Of 5&5 in 2004-7 and it hasn't worked with the COT - downforce always trumps mechanical grip, and aeropush is about what dirty air is doing behind cars, not about how cars make too much downforce.

Many are to blame, and one who deserves more blame than he gets is John Darby, for apparantly his influence on NASCAR higher-ups has been serious and he hasn't shown much in the way of good ideas.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com