NASCAR

Relief over COT schedule decision

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Steve Byrnes

Steve Byrnes is a host and reporter for NASCAR on FOX. A broadcast veteran, he has covered racing for more than 20 years. Follow him on Twitter.

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There's a huge sense of relief now that NASCAR has announced that all of next year's races will be run with the Car of Tomorrow. Every week for the past month, every crew chief has told me that these teams have worked harder than they have had to work in 20 years.

Hard work is expected, but trying to prepare the new cars with cars they've been running for years has been very difficult so they are relieved to know that they can just focus on the COT as they prepare for next year. Last week, Greg Biffle called his car "a science project." He said they were doing engineering stuff that didn't seem to be working so he's frustrated right now. I thought that he would bounce back in a big way this year because he's one of the most talented race car drivers out there. Whether it's a combination of struggling with crew chief Pat Tryson, who was replaced last week, or a lack of preparation with the Car of Tomorrow, it's been a tough season for Biffle.

Every year, we seem to say they make changes earlier and earlier. I think Junior is going to make a decision by the middle of July. You could say it's not too early to throw in the towel but these teams don't really have three- or five-year plans. The future is now, and they've got to deal with now. Before Roush Fenway Racing started building and testing the Car of Tomorrow in earnest, the team decided to wait until NASCAR released all the final guidelines for the car. Carl Edwards' crew chief, Bob Osborne, was very candid with me when he said they felt like they got behind as an organization. Over 90 percent of NASCAR's teams are within a 50-mile radius of the Lowe's Motor Speedway. Haas-CNC Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates are literally within a couple of miles of the racetrack.

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Over the past two weeks, these teams have been able to spend time with their families and loved ones or just have a little bit of time to themselves. That's critically important as we approach the halfway point in the Race to the Chase for the Nextel Cup at Dover and a difficult month and a half of criss-crossing the country until the next off-weekend. After the Memorial Day weekend, it's almost like when you're in elementary school, and summer vacation is over. It's time to hit the road and go back to school. The next month will go a long way in determining which teams makes the Chase and which don't.


NASCAR on FOX and SPEED host and reporter Steve Byrnes has covered racing for more than 20 years.

Tagged: Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards

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