The Wait Is Over

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Jeff Burton says it's just another car to race. Tony Stewart calls it a "Flying Brick."

But like it or not, the much-heralded "Car of Tomorrow" will make its debut this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. And to a man, no one knows what to expect.

"I'm not sure anyone is looking forward to Bristol," said Dale Earnhardt, Jr. "The number of unknowns is through the roof with the 'Car of Tomorrow', but it's the same for everybody."

It certainly will be a level playing field, at least in theory. Although there have been several NASCAR-sanctioned tests as well as individual tests by teams, how the car ultimately performs in race conditions is anyone's guess.

"That’s why we’re here at Greenville-Pickens today," said Kurt Busch's crew chief Roy McCauley on Tuesday morning as his team was shaking down its new Dodge Avenger. "It’s a good place to shake our Dodge Avenger down one last time before we head to Bristol. We’re determined to be as prepared as possible for this weekend’s debut of the new model at Bristol."

Kasey Kahne thinks the COT will be the cause of a lot of carnage this weekend, something Bristol is already known for producing.

"I think you're going to see a lot of different things going on," Kahne said. "I think we're going to be in lapped traffic really quick, and it's going to be tough to pass cars, and you're going to see crashes.

"You're just going to see some torn-up cars of tomorrow. I don't know any other way to put it. Hopefully there isn't, hopefully you can pass good and move around and all that. I haven't seen it too often at Bristol, and with this car it's going to be difficult."

But while it may indeed be difficult, it will be the same for everyone and Stewart knows that just racing at Bristol provides its own set of challenges.

"I want to win every race," Stewart said. "Bristol's not a landmark race for me, by any means. I'm treating it just like any other race. It's the same cast of suspects, and we're all out there trying to do the same thing.

"Anytime you can win at Bristol, it's big. Bristol is one of those races every year that I'd like to win. I remember when I won the night race there. I've only won at Bristol once. It's just a huge feeling when you can accomplish a win there, let alone with the challenges we have with the 'Car of Tomorrow.'"

And despite his dislike for the car, Stewart plans on figuring out what needs to be done to do well - Sunday and in the other 15 COT races of the year.

"I've raced for 27 years, and I've won championships in cars I didn't like, so I'm not too worried about having to try to trick myself into embracing something that I'm not very fond of so far," Stewart said. "If we hit the combination, we can go out there a win a championship with it. If we hit the combination right, we could win 16 races with a car like that. I don't think it's anything that's psychological.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what it's going to be all about. I think when we go to Bristol that it'll be interesting to see where everybody stacks up and see who's really done their homework so far this year."






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