NASCAR

Gen-6 brings promise of old moves

Image: NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. (© Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr. is among those saying drafting will be different now.
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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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As we all have seen over the past couple of years, NASCAR revised some of its rules on the Car of Tomorrow over time, especially to address and hopefully eliminate the “two-car tandem” style of racing that we were seeing at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

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Despite the changes, we still were seeing a little bit of it last year.

Now that NASCAR has introduced this new Sprint Cup Generation 6 car, and after three days of testing at Daytona early last month, we have a lot better idea of what kind of racing we are going to expect to see on the restrictor-plate tracks.

Now realistically, I can’t sit here right now today and bang the gavel proclaiming the two-car tandem is completely gone.

I will say, however, that it’s going to be hard to push another driver like in the past with this new body style. These new bumpers are rounder than and not as flat as they once were. In addition to that, the nose and tails of these cars don’t match up height-wise like they did on the old car.

Just look at the test session in Daytona as a perfect example. The drivers had a big wreck in the middle of the straightaway when Dale Earnhardt Jr., in his Chevrolet, tried to push Marcos Ambrose, in his Ford. As we all saw, it just didn’t work and we had “the Big One.”

I really think we are going to go back in time a little bit to where the conventional way of drafting is going to return as the norm. Martin Truex Jr. summed it up best when he said drafting these past few years only consisted of pushing the guy ahead of you for as long as you could until your water temperature got to hot and then you had to switch.

As Martin continued to explain, now you have to find that “sweet spot” in the draft because you really can’t push any longer, but you can’t be too far back either. It’s almost back to a science where you are working the brake and the throttle, even in the draft where you can maximize the speed.

So I believe we’ll be going back to more conventional drafting where the more cars you can get lined up, the faster you will go as a group. All of this will be happening without anyone pushing each other like we’ve seen the past few years.

If you remember back to the racing at Daytona and Talladega in the 1980s, the famous “sling shot” move was created and played a major role near the end of the race.

We might see that even more now this year than ever before. I think that will be exciting.

It was exciting back in the day, and there is no reason to think it would be any different today.

Tagged: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr.

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