Bristol: Round five preview

* Car of Tomorrow Makes Its Debut At Bristol Car Of Tomorrow Is Here ... Today DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 20, 2007) -- The culmination of seven years of research, planning, testing and development come to fruition this weekend at Bristol Motor...

* Car of Tomorrow Makes Its Debut At Bristol

Car Of Tomorrow Is Here ... Today

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 20, 2007) -- The culmination of seven years of research, planning, testing and development come to fruition this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway as NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow debuts in Sunday's Food City 500.

The Car of Tomorrow is NASCAR's safer race car that also focuses on improving competition and providing teams with an opportunity to manage their costs more efficiently.

During a Feb. 28-March 1 test at Bristol, 50 teams went through a dress rehearsal that set the stage for this weekend. Most competitors came away sensing that Sunday's race should be another hard-driving, tight racing and challenging afternoon at one of the sport's most popular and dynamic venues -- the .533-mile concrete oval layout at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"Overall, I think the car is a resounding success for all the teams and for the way it's going to put on a good show when we come back here," said Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) during the Bristol test. "It's a clean slate, so whoever works the hardest and is the most determined and still continues to keep an open frame of mind will succeed in the end.

"I'm intrigued by it. It's a new challenge. It has 50 percent of the Chase races this year, so the Car of Tomorrow is very important. In the end, this Car of Tomorrow is going to be a good thing."

The Food City 500 is the first of 16 races scheduled for the Car of Tomorrow in 2007. All tracks a mile or less in length, along with the two road courses and the October race at Talladega Superspeedway, will run the Car of Tomorrow this year.

SAFETY FIRST -- From the very beginning, improving driver safety was the No. 1 goal of the Car of Tomorrow. Safety improvements include:

Double-frame rail on driver's side with steel plating covering the door bars; Energy absorbing materials installed between the roll cage door bars and door panels; Enlarged cockpit -- the driver is moved closer to the center of the car and the roof is 2½ inches higher.

"The first thing about the car is that it's safer," said Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet). "Whatever it is after that is a bonus. The drivers have more room inside. There are a lot of things built into the car to absorb energy when they hit the wall. That's just the starting point."

ADJUSTABILITY -- The Car of Tomorrow features two adjustable aerodynamic pieces -- a rear wing and front air dam splitter -- that provide teams with flexibility in making adjustments at the race track.

The rear wing:

Provides better balance and control in traffic. It replaces the rear spoiler; Helps reduce turbulent air behind the car; Adjusts between 0-16 degrees, enabling teams to change rear downforce to suit drivers and tracks; Provides various combinations and adjustments to sideforce-generating end plates and flat end plates that allow for further at-track adjustments. The front air dam splitter:

Can be adjusted fore and aft from four to six inches to impact the car's downforce and aerodynamic balance; Provides teams with another element to achieve the aerodynamic balance that their setup, driver or the track's changing conditions might dictate;

Allows teams to tune the front downforce to suit drivers and tracks.

COST EFFICIENCY -- By using a more refined body and chassis measurement process, the need for track-specific car configurations is reduced. NASCAR has provided teams with a "blueprint" to build chassis and bodies, giving teams the opportunity to reduce the amount of time necessary to fabricate cars.

BRAND IDENTITY -- As a result of NASCAR working with the four manufacturers, the Car of Tomorrow features an enhanced opportunity for the manufacturers to retain many of the characteristics of their production cars such as the front nose, grill, hood, window panels and headlights for the Chevrolet Impala SS, Dodge Avenger, Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry.

"I think our integrated approach in working with NASCAR on its new-generation race car has been valuable in helping them meet their four key objectives and valuable for us," said Pat Suhy, GM Racing NASCAR group manager, "particularly in gaining increased manufacturer identity with the new Chevrolet Impala SS."

Car Of Tomorrow, Etc.

In order for all drivers to benefit from the safety measures that the Car of Tomorrow offers, it was necessary for the chassis to be consistent. NASCAR provided all teams with a "blueprint" to follow when building their Car of Tomorrow chassis.

With the standardization of the chassis, NASCAR also implemented a new chassis certification process at its Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C., that inspects more than 220 measuring points. Once the chassis is certified, NASCAR affixes nine Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips to the chassis to document that it has met all specifications and is ready for the race track.

There also are some new inspection procedures at the track. The Car of Tomorrow template inspection is consolidated into one unit -- the main inspection grid. Supported by an aluminum frame, the grid features a motorized, maneuverable device that is lowered on to a race car. It can measure multiple templates at the same time and then can be re-configured to measure other templates.

The rear wing is a NASCAR-issued part that teams will receive when they arrive at the race track each week. The teams are not charged for the wings. If a wing becomes damaged beyond repair during competition, NASCAR will furnish the team with another wing. The teams are responsible for their own front air dam splitters.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick