2013 is going to be an important year for NASCAR and the Sprint Cup Series with the introduction of the Gen 6 car. Fans and drivers alike are excited about the new body style for various reasons. In turn, the excitement that surrounds and continues to build for the upcoming season has to be positive for those in charge of NASCAR. In spite of all the hype and testing that has been done in preparation for 2013, the question remains of whether or not the on track product will be better and more competitive in recent years.
Compared to the now defunct Car Of Tomorrow, the Gen 6 cars are already off to a far better start, at least in regards to how the cars look. In general, most people feel the new cars appear to be more stock than the COT was. In truth, NASCAR’s premiere series hasn’t had “stock cars” for several decades now. However, just the appearance of the cars is a step in the right direction for NASCAR. Numerous fans hated the COT because there was no body distinction between the different manufacturers. Now the cars are noticeably different and it is easy to differentiate between a Ford, a Chevy and a Toyota. Drivers have given the new car positive reviews. Many say that the new car drives and feels more like the fourth generation car that preceded the COT.
Unlike the COT, the Gen 6 car has not been phased in to actual races. While nearly every driver and team has done extensive testing in preparation of the coming season, fans still have to wait and see what the cars will do in racing conditions. More than anything else, NASCAR needs the new car to be competitive right off the get-go. Fans want to see side-by-side, wheel-to-wheel racing which did not seem to happen that often with the COT. Fans also want to see more passing and elements like clean air and aero push not be as much of a factor. Many times in recent years the fastest car hasn’t been able to win thanks to strategy or a bad stop. Fans want to see the fast cars be able to drive back to the front and leaders not have as big of an advantage if they are in front.
The Daytona 500 is like a season in its own and rarely is a judge of how a driver’s year will go. The real test for the Gen 6 car will be at Phoenix and Las Vegas, two tracks which carry similarities to the bulk of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. If the car provides competitive racing in the first few events, it is likely that interest will stay high throughout the year which will be a positive in all ways for NASCAR. If the car does not provide competitive racing, NASCAR will have work to do to provide a rules package that will create good racing. After many years of fans leaving the sport and ratings and attendance dropping, NASCAR can ill afford for the Gen 6 car to fail.