By: Billy Tewes
Happy Easter to all and welcome to my premature reflection of the 2013 Sprint Cup Season. What can we say that hasn’t already been said by the great competition on the track? Aside from Daytona, nearly every race has had a memorable finish and some sort of strategy employed to determine the victor. So with that being said, here are the three things that have been a pleasant surprise for me.
1. Generation six car
Nascar redesigned the car template for the 2013 season. Overall, I would give this car an A grade. The drivers love it and know that it is a few tweaks away from being competitive on all of the tracks. The look of the car is so much more visually appealing than that of the Car of Tomorrow. The car of tomorrow was Nascar’s attempt at making a safer car. The car was extremely safe, but it also came at the cost of an ugly boxy looking car. The 2013 generation six car looks closer to the street cars that manufacturers sell to us consumers and I think that is an important part of Motorsports. Nascar wants to build a big connection with their fans and what better way than to make them feel like they can drive the same cars that their favorite drivers race.
2. Five Different Winners
When I heard about a new stock car style with the generation six car, I kind of assumed that some teams would have greater competitive advantages than others. But so far, it seems like all three manufacturers (Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota) are on a level playing field. There have been five different drivers who have won in five races. Chevrolet has won two, Toyota has won two and Ford has won one. Matt Kenseth almost broke that trend at Bristol but was wrecked out by Jeff Gordon’s flat tire. I think this is a great indication for the generation six car and who knows, maybe we’ll go up to ten races with ten different winners!
Strategy has always been an important aspect of Nascar. Teams are not familiar with the brand new generation six car when it comes to older tires and different adjustments. I am very surprised to see teams who are racing for wins take risks such as not taking tires or only take two tires to get in the top spot. I think with the generation six car, we are seeing how valuable clean air is. Clean air is when the first place driver has no cars in front of them and have a clean air flow and generally have a better advantage speed wise. Its just shocking to see drivers like Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano on older tires actually being as fast or faster than the drivers who have four fresh tires. It is a true testament to how good this generation six car is and that we can expect some great racing to come!
With all that being said, we are on to Martinsville, the paper clip in Virginia! Much like Bristol, this track is known for short tempers. The track is the shortest distance wise on the cup schedule at .526 miles. The flatness of the track, combined with the fact that generally the only way to pass someone is to bump them out of the way is the reason this place is so chaotic.
Denny Hamlin has won three of the last seven Martinsville races but will sidelined for the next five races due to a compression fracture in his back. With that being said I think Dale Earnhardt Jr could get his first win of the season at Martinsville. The point leader nearly won this race last year but Kevin Harvick passed him late to win. The Hendrick cars are always competitive at Martinsville so it wouldn’t surprise me if one of the four (Earnhardt Jr, Gordon, Johnson, Kahne) could take home the trophy. Until next time, adios and God speed Nascar fans!