Monday, October 8, 2007

COT promotes mostly dull big-track debut at 'Dega

I think I disagree. It did get old seeing single file racing but after about the half way mark, things seemed to pick up a little. It was Talladega. The race itself wasn't that much different than a "the old car" racing. I think they were hoping for some "better" racing and ended up with the same results with the COT as they have had with the Old Car.
And it's a superspeedway.  What can be done for more exciting racing.  Running almost 200 mph drivers aren't going to take chances 100 miles into it.  I don't see what could be "fixed".
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- NASCAR's new Car of Tomorrow didn't exactly pass its first superspeedway test with flying colors.

But, on the plus side, there were no flying racecars Sunday at Talladega.

Despite all the trepidation and unanswered questions heading into the next-generation stock car's first race on the biggest and most dangerous oval in the Nextel Cup Series, the UAW-Ford 500 did bear at least some resemblance to a typical Talladega race.

There were two- and three-wide freight trains racing inches from each other at nearly 200 mph -- at times.

There were multi-car crashes, including the expected Big One involving 11 cars.

And the finish, with Jeff Gordon out-dueling Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson at the head of a huge pack of challengers, shouldn't have disappointed any real racing fan.

But there also were long periods of ho-hum racing during the 188-lap event, with most of the drivers riding lap after lap in single file, apparently holding their collective breath in anticipation of disaster just up the road.

The 145,000 fans on hand at the sprawling Alabama track had little to cheer until the waning laps, except for the brief periods when their favorite, Dale Earnhardt Jr., surged into the lead before his day was cut short by another broken engine.

Even the drivers felt it.

"It was really, really boring," Earnhardt said after his early exit.

And Gordon, whose victory bore little resemblance to his six previous wins on Talladega's 2.66-mile oval, agreed with the driver who will be his new teammate next season.

Gordon spent three-quarters of the race riding near the back of the field, biding his time and just trying to stay out of trouble. It wasn't until the last 30 laps that the four-time Cup champion, now the leader in the Chase, got racy.

"It was terrible," he said. "It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in a racecar. I like to think that I've got pretty good patience, but that's beyond patience. There's just nothing fun about that, but I knew it was a smart thing.

"I've never yawned in a racecar in my life and I yawned back there."

This was the 14th of 16 COT races this year, but the first on an oval longer than 1.33 miles for the car that will be run for the entire schedule in 2007.

The problem is that NASCAR and the Cup teams have not yet totally figured out the COT, a bigger, bulkier car developed over a seven-year period to enhance safety, cut team costs by making all cars more uniform and level out the competition.

On the big Talladega track, the bulky COT carves a huge hole in the air and gives a car coming from behind an accelerated closing rate. And, with the bumpers lined up perfectly level on the new cars, the competitors gain most of their momentum for passes with lots of hard bump-drafting.

If this was a preview of the next COT race on a carburetor restrictor-plate track, there are going to be a lot of people yawning in the Daytona 500 in February.
"I still think we need to work on this car a little bit," Gordon said. "I think we would never race like that if we didn't have the closing rate that we have, and [with] the bump-drafting being so drastic that I think we need to make some adjustments here.

"I knew the race was going to be spectacular at the end. It's always going to be spectacular at the end here at Talladega. But that wasn't the kind of race we want to see up to the 10-to-go or 20-to-go mark, guys riding single final or guys running the back with a group of 10 cars."

Dave Blaney, who matched his career best with a third-place finish, also agreed that most of the race wasn't very exciting. But he noted that NASCAR has plenty of ammunition to make the racing better.

"They can play with the restrictor plate and the wicker and the wing and gearing," Blaney said. "They could change it all around. So the package is all right. It just maybe needs tweaking a little bit."

Hopefully, NASCAR will get it done before Daytona.

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