NASCAR’s new Generation 6 machines for the Sprint Cup Series have certainly been faster than their predecessors. Track qualifying records have been broken a whopping 17 times this season, with the most recent record falling at Dover International Speedway a few weeks ago at the hands of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
But the new cars were supposed to deliver a better on-track product, especially on the 1.5-mile intermediate tracks that make up the bulk of the NASCAR calendar. And, by and large, it hasn’t come through in that regard.
Track position and the clean air that goes along with it remain the all-important keys to victory, with restarts and pit stops emerging as the prime opportunities to gain ground.
NASCAR is trying to go about solving that problem as they have scheduled a test day for tomorrow at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Six teams will take part in the session, which is designed to aid research and development on Sprint Cup’s 1.5-mile package and improve upon it for 2014.
According to NASCAR.com’s Kenny Bruce, each manufacturer will have two teams represented at the test: Penske Racing and Wood Brothers Racing for Ford, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Richard Childress Racing for Chevrolet, and Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing for Toyota.
The initial release regarding the test day said that officials would be testing aerodynamic enhancements, chassis ride heights and drafting scenarios as part of the proceedings.
So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.
It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.
In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.
“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.
Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.
For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.