Reflecting on the first races of new season

Reflecting on the first races of new season

The CoT, car of tomorrow, is now the car of today. The only thing that has changed about 'the new car' is the expensive safety equipped features. Jeff Gordon's wreck at Atlanta is proof of the cars safety module. Race winner Kyle Busch...

The CoT, car of tomorrow, is now the car of today. The only thing that has changed about 'the new car' is the expensive safety equipped features. Jeff Gordon's wreck at Atlanta is proof of the cars safety module.

Race winner Kyle Busch celebrates.
Photo by Action Sports Photography.

Can safety go without a hefty price tag? NASCAR seemed to think so at the beginning of this CoT operation, but 2008 proved them wrong. Sprint Cup teams have all around spent more time and money than they originally anticipated at the CoT deal.

Just like immigrants thinking America's streets were paved with gold and good fortune in the 1900's, so were teams mislead at the great idea of the CoT package. Granted it is a very exquisite and highly esteemed car, which NASCAR should be applauded for, but most teams were immigrants coming into this newly found car and are discovering its positive and negative mysteries track by track.

The CoT is causing every team to invest in an expensive piece of equipment called a seven-post shaker. It is a machine designed to simulate suspension; a lot of set ups are done in simulation now, and more time is spent trying to develop the bump stops. A bump stop will limit suspension and allow cars to run softer springs without bottoming out, this is precisely the method behind the madness. Teams are now spending double what they did in 2007 on their cars.

All four manufacturers have had a win in the CoT. This is neither good nor bad, it shows just what NASCAR set out to do. Level the playing field. Every weekend is a toss up of who will win, as opposed to the previous seasons when certain teams or drivers would periodically dominate the season. Although the drivers who particularly like the CoT are ones who enjoy a lose set up. Which is something to think about, in comparison to Kyle Busch owning the 2008 Cup season. It is no secret that the younger Busch brother enjoys a loser set up compared to a majority of drivers in the field.

Kyle Busch continues to exercise his right to 'showing his personality' on track, in conjunction with NASCAR's " Back to the Basics Tour". 2004 was the beginning reign of NASCAR tightening the grip of the drivers personalities to promote a cleaner television friendly sport. This however back fired on them and is one cause of their declined television rating. The association decided to try something new for the season and is claiming a 'show your personality' for all of their drivers. The waters are still unclear as to how far is too far, and what will happen if you cross the line. If Stewart and Busch's confrontation during a Daytona practice apparently wasn't crossing the line, then the window for some old school brawls are still upon us all.

Many drivers are still skeptical as to NASCAR's meaning behind showing their personality. Dale Earnhardt Jr. added to say, " Are we suppose to walk the line and see where we step over it, and are we going to get fined when we go too far?"

Gone are the days of old when Hoosier and Goodyear raced side by side, and winning was held above safety. Instead, cup drivers rely on one single tire company. Which takes the guess work out of inventing a more competitive tire, but in return one company is held responsible for the whole field's tire issues. Can Goodyear step up to the plate? In years past they have done just that and then some. Since the CoT has arrived, this has become a downhill statement. They are now struggling to find a fine line between safety and a competitive tire.

Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. talk to media.
Photo by Action Sports Photography.

Numerous drivers have complained over the 2008 season on tire performance, but none caught America's attention like that of Tony Stewarts comment after the Atlanta race. Stewart spoke his mind on Goodyear giving him , " the most pathetic racing tire I've ever been on in my professional racing career."

This was a rather harsh comment by Stewart, many drivers agreeing with Tony's point. Ryan Newman being one of those drivers, " There's a lot of things he said that were true. Obviously, he took it to another level. Is there a grip issue? Borderline. Is there justification is some of Tony's comments? Probably. Did Tony over react? Probably."

Goodyear is a well standing company that took Atlanta's comments to heart. The following Monday, they invited a select group of drivers to test new improved tires. The renowned tire company has always come through in the past and will conquer this small bump in the road. NASCAR would not of signed them to a long term contract if they didn't believe in Goodyear's vision and track record.

The 2008 season thus far was filled with headline finishes; from Penske's one-two finale at Daytona, to Burtons action packed Bristol win. The concluding cup season will be one for the books, fans new and old should not miss a second of the action.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Kyle Busch