Car of Tomorrow, new rules will keep car builders in line

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Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip — winner of 84 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and a three-time champion — serves as lead analyst for NASCAR on FOX. He was selected for induction into the prestigious NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012. Want more from DW? Become a fan on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

If you look at pictures of racecars coming at you or going away from you on the track, you can see what NASCAR is dealing with from a rules perspective. These car builders have figured out how to get these cars so whoppy-jawed that the noses are moved to one side and the tails are moved to the other side. The roofs are pulled down. The cars are truly a mess. NASCAR is banking on the Car of Tomorrow to replace the problems with the current car because the cow is so far out of the barn now that they'll never get it back in.

The Car of Tomorrow has what I like to call some rules of unintended consequences. I'm just not sold on the car, although I feel better about it than I did. A few weeks ago, Brett Bodine told me that the Car of Tomorrow can use the same front snout, rear clip and all of the suspension parts and pieces that the teams are using now. The only thing that's going to be different is the center section of the car. The two framerails, the rollcage and the body are going to be totally different. Each manufacturer will be given an opportunity to make the car look like whatever brand it may be. If it's a Toyota, it will look like a Camry. If it's a Chevrolet, they can make it look like a Monte Carlo with graphics and other things that they can do to the noses and tails. The way the car looks right now is not indicative of the way the car is going to look when it hits the track for its first race at Bristol next year. The only thing that I am adamantly against about the Car of Tomorrow is a stock car with a rear wing on it. IndyCars and Formula 1 cars must have rear wings because they don't have a body with a trunk and a decklid for a spoiler. Stock cars have decklids. The only time stock cars have had a wing was during the 1970s when Dodges and Plymouths got so exotic that they had rear wings which stood up in the air about five feet. And they looked ridiculous.

There are just way too many things that can come into play when you tinker around with a wing's configuration and angle and trying to mount it so it won't get knocked off. What are you going to do if you get hit or back it into the wall and knock off the wing? You can't go back on the track without a wing. Wings could fly off and go everywhere, causing wrecks. Wings will be a huge headache and a problem that can be avoided. NASCAR should just work with the rear blade. If it takes a nine-inch rear blade, then put a nine-inch rear blade on it. Do whatever it takes to make the car drive right without a wing because the car has enough issues. Don't add another problem by sticking a rear wing on the back of the car. I like the way that NASCAR is going in some areas with the rear clip and front snout. Those are good changes, but when it comes to the cosmetics of the car, I'm not in favor of trying to make the car look too exotic and different.

Behind the rule change

Realigning the rear end of the car on the rear quarterpanels — a new rule that was announced just before the Easter break — is a welcome change. It moves the rear bumper back in line with the center line of the car. It's going to have a huge effect on some racecars. Some teams have been sticking their rear spoilers out to the right, and it creates a ton of downforce, particularly in yaw when the car is going through the corner. Drivers with cars that have handled awfully well may have to go back to the drawing board over the next few weeks. It's a good rule change that needed to be done. Now, NASCAR needs to get the nose lined back up with the center of the car.
Ask DW

Oh, by the way

The way these cars are designed is causing all of these wrecks. At Texas, Matt Kenseth ran the nose of his car under the back of Scott Riggs' car on pit road, demonstrating exactly what has been causing many wrecks. The noses are so low and so swooped back, and the tails of the cars are so high up in the air that the nose goes right under the rear bumper and lifts the car off the ground. When drivers barely bump somebody, they jack them up, get the rear wheels off the ground and spin them out. Hopefully some of these rule changes that they're starting to make, like lining up the center of the rear bumper, will make these cars look something like a stock car again.
Tagged: Matt Kenseth, Scott Riggs

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