Thursday, March 25, 2010

CoT to Be Real?

For the past 10 months, the buzz around the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage, in terms of the cars, has been its competitiveness. While the sanctioning body achieved its long-term desire for close fields and durable machines that could be reused as many times as Star Trek fans view The Wrath of Khan, the car billed as an elixir to the problems with the on-track product has somewhat failed with its expectations, especially with fans and some racers.

Town hall meetings were held, starting last May during Charlotte Speedweeks, in which one of the most frequently mentioned component that had a negative impact on the cars and races were the rear wings. The Car of Tomorrow touted this particular piece, which replaced the aluminum spoilers, as a compliment to this next generation vehicle.

However, this breed of racing machine has taken something of a long time for the masses to accept. Gone were the sleek designs which somewhat resembled their street counterparts from the assembly plants. These cars were now boxier, with a front valence dubbed as the splitter, bigger greenhouses, and of course, that oft-mentioned wing.

Old school fans immediately dismissed the new Cup car as behemoth and atrocious, barely resembling the epitome of a truly stock steel chariot. There was nothing recognizable with them, looking less like a NASCAR but something from illegal drag race cars on the city streets.

Well, after nearly two years in its truly maligned tenure as the car of choice in Cup racing, NASCAR's decided to truly do away with the wing, opting for the traditional rear spoiler to bring familiarity back with the fans and competitors. Based on looks, it's looking halfway toward being a stock car again.

What's the problem then, you may be wondering? How about the fact that it's almost like NASCAR's somewhat admitting that the Car of Tomorrow hasn't been the cure-all to the somewhat drawn out racing that we've seen in the past 15-16 years. In fact, it's only added on to the discontentment that's marred the series which has been billed as the most premier racing division in America.

Sure, the safety features are amazing. Carbon fiber seating, energy absorbing foams on the sides of the car, as well as its ability to be reused frequently are some of the pros of the CoT. Yet, some critics argue that these very aspects could have been implemented with the old car, which is on the verge of being phased out in the Nationwide Series.

The spoiler won't change much of the racing at a track like Martinsville or Richmond, which remain as closely contested and exciting as they've been in the past. However, it may aid in the excitement factor at a place such as Michigan, Pocono, and dare I say, Fontana. How many races have we seen the field string out like that of a 43-car parade?

Hopefully, this change, as the saying goes, will do some good. Maybe we'll see the CoT truly live up to its prediction as a cure-all to the four hour struggles in the past 15 years. Perhaps some of the reviews with the Nationwide carnation of the CoT will aid with the Sprint Cup's version, which could truly use additional cosmetic makeover.

What's next with the CoT? Could the splitter be removed in favor of a more orthodox looking front clip? Time will tell and the racing action on the track's truly up in the air with the jury of the 36 races: the fans. With the sport's talking heads, particularly Robin Pemberon, Vice President of Competition in NASCAR, telling the ladies and gents of the sport to "have at it," maybe the sanctioning body's following suit. After all, it's CoT to be real!

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