Back on track - NASCAR NOTES by Lugnut - - The News for South Mississippi

NASCAR NOTES: Back on track

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Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy:" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy:"

After what seemed an eternity, NASCAR Cup Series teams began shaking down the new Gen6 race car this past week in the first of three test sessions to prepare for the 2013 season. In an effort to keep the fans informed, Robin Pemberton, Vice President of Competition, sat down with the press to review the tests last week in Daytona.

The new-look race car gave the vision of stepping back in time to a day when the street car looked like the race car and vise-versa. The on track results were encouraging as well and Pemberton had high praise for the new design.

"We were ready to be hands-on," commented Pemberton on the feedback from the session. "We felt like we did our homework on this working with the manufacturers and the teams and came down here and it was pretty straightforward. It feels good right now."

The goal of the new design was to create better racing action for the fans. NASCAR hoped to accomplish that by reducing the dependency on aerodynamics and giving the mechanics more control of how the car performs on the track.

"The springs are softer and the spoilers are smaller," continued Pemberton on some of the changes. "The single-car speeds are a little bit quicker than last year. That was a goal. Our pack speeds are the same or down a little bit. So that was another one of our goals."

NASCAR might have been right on the money with the setup for Daytona but, the drivers have a little more learning to do with the new design as a multicar accident sent many teams home early.

Marcos Ambrose's crew was one of the Ford teams that had to cut its test short, and felt the incident was due to the new car.

"Well, certainly we used to get greedy with the old cars," said Ambrose after the accident. "It was very easy to bump draft. You had a good square surface to push from. So I definitely think it's a consequence of the new shape. The new car's very light, and it doesn't take much."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took blame for starting the pileup and agreed with Ambrose the new car will take some getting used to on the super speedways.

"You definitely gotta be more careful pushing people," acknowledged Earnhardt. "The cars are really tail happy and real loose because of the down force they have on the back of the cars. So a little bit more of a handful, especially in the draft toward the back of the draft where the air is real dirty."

Pemberton knows that the teams will figure it out once Speedweek begins in a few weeks, but was satisfied with the results.

"There's more opportunity for downforce to be created in the splitter area with under-body work that is cleaner air," observed Pemberton. "Hopefully that will tend to allow the cars to behave better around other cars."

With Daytona a success, now the attention focuses on the mile and a half test being held in Charlotte. If the results are similar there, this should be a very exciting NASCAR season.

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