Notebook: Changes To Cars?
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on April 1, 2014 | 4:12 P.M. EST
Manufacturer officials talk about possible changes that could be made to the Gen-6 car in the future. (Photo: Getty Images)
Engines changes, alterations to the car's interior and ways to make NASCAR Sprint Cup cars more like street cars continue to be ideas discussed with manufacturers.
NASCAR is talking to manufacturers and engine builders about possible changes for next season, including a reduction of horsepower.
"The focus right now is about the process ... with some clear objectives in mind," said David Wilson, president and general manager of Toyota Racing Development USA. "We’re talking among ourselves about the various options."
Other changes with the car also are being discussed, including the interior. NASCAR Chairman Brian France first talked about "glass dashboards" two years ago, saying it was a direction car manufacturers were headed.
"Your car dashboard in the future is going to be like an airplane cockpit," France said in July 2012. "You’ll be able to do different things with that and set it up the way you want. The first step is for us to have a look and feel that's consistent with what they see their cars looking (like) in the showroom down the road. There are going to be any number of things once we get this digitally done, where that information out of the cockpit can be part of the racing experience for our fans in the stands or anywhere else."
Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing, foresees innovative dashboards and more changing the sport.
"(In) the other racing series, there are a lot of aspects of telemetry, a lot of communication," Allison said. "But today, that communication is happening to the fans, so the fans are able to see some of the elements of the racing that's going on.
"Another aspect is just looking around at what's going on in technology. It may not be directly applicable but at some point in the future, this alternative form of propulsion, there's certainly gasoline propulsion for racing, but what other consideration beyond that in terms of a different aspect of the sport?"
Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for Chevrolet, says the key to future changes is NASCAR working with the manufacturers. That was the case with recent changes, including the Gen-6 car.
"The power of us working together is that we're going to get some good ideas on the table, see which ones make sense in terms of product relevancy that would really connect at the racetrack and link back to the showroom, and then also put a lens to it in terms of what's a proper use of the time and resources so that we're making every resource applied go as far as we can," Campbell said.
WORK TO DO
Denny Hamlin promised he’d win at Martinsville Speedway last weekend but finished 19th and didn’t lead a lap, the first time since 2008 he had not led a lap in a race at the historic half-mile track.
"We were a mile away from the setup we needed to win," Hamlin said. "We’ve got some work to do, for sure. All our teams haven’t been good on short tracks in the last year and a half."
Hamlin last won a short-track race in August 2011 at Bristol. Joe Gibbs Racing has one win in the 10 short-track races since. Matt Kenseth won last year’s Bristol night race, but Kenseth has been strong in the last three races at Bristol and could have won all of them had circumstances been different.
Marcos Ambrose has scored the most points (79) in the first two races at short tracks this season. Carl Edwards is next with 78 points and Ambrose’s Richard Petty Motorsports teammate, Aric Almirola, is third with 77.
Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon are the only drivers to complete all 1,988 laps run so far this season. Rookie Austin Dillon and Richard Childress Racing teammate Ryan Newman have both completed all but one lap.
Greg Biffle is set to make his 400th consecutive start (408th overall) this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Jeff Gordon is the leader among active drivers with 731 consecutive starts. Ricky Rudd holds the all-time record of 788 consecutive starts.