Okay, let's be blunt, the changes to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway are not exactly being cheered. Some drivers think it sucks. Just ask Tony Stewart. He doesn't like anything they did, period. He figures if they wanted to make a new track, they should have just gone with a half-mile oval.
"The last time I checked, [.533-mile] Bristol's the most
sought-after ticket on the circuit with a three-year waiting list.
Where's the light switch? Is it not coming on anywhere? If I had a
billion dollars, I'd build me another daggone Bristol and put me
160,000 seats in it like [Speedway Motorsports chairman] Bruton [Smith]
did -- and laugh all the way to the bank.
"But they're not smart enough to do that."Tony's a track owner himself. He knows that LMVS and Speedway Motorsports, are motivated to try and improve racing and sell more tickets.
"They're trying to do everything they can to ensure that they're
going to sell this place out every year," Stewart said. "Nobody wants a
situation like we had two weeks ago in California, where the place was
"This racetrack is owned by the same group as
[Lowe's Motor Speedway], and we went through the same situation. It's a
domino effect. Phase one was changing the racetrack. Phase two was tire
troubles. Didn't they learn anything the last time they did something
"I didn't go to college. I'm not an engineer. I don't
know anything, but I've sat my butt in a racecar for 27 years of my
life, and I think I'm somewhat qualified to say that this wasn't the
right change -- this wasn't going to accomplish their goal."Yesterday's Busch Series race on the track featured a whole lot of crashes, and did nothing to improve Tony's opinion of the track. "I want pillows on the right side of my car, and basically all around,
in case I get wrecked," he said. "All I want to do is see if we can get
[General Motors] to put some air bags in there and some pillows on the
outside and go from there."
Yep, Tony, we get it! Let's see how today's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 goes. Then we'll talk some more.
MARK MARTIN AND THE NEXTEL CUP
Mark Martin, a man of few words, gave his usual succinct response when asked if he will run a full schedule if he stays in contention for the Nextel Cup. "No."
After the first two races, he is off to the best points start in his 25-year career. The question was put to him after his win in California, and it was a fair one: "Will your schedule change now that you're the points leader?" His response "No."
Martin is a part-time driver for Ginn Racing. He doesn't want to be a full-time driver. He wants to race the trucks and watch his son Matt race at short tracks in Florida. More and more of a fan favorite these days, fan interest in him grows even more the longer he leads in the points. People are asking "Will he be able to continue to lead? Can he finally win a Cup championship?" The way things are today...no. He is willing to share the Nextel driving duties with Regan Smith. He won't continue to lead the points, he won't drive a full schedule, and he won't win a Cup championship. Period. He knows what he wants. And what he wants is to drive part-time and spend the rest of it watching his son.
Will he regret his decision? No, I don't think so. Good for him.
CAR OF TOMORROW
Tests on the Car of Tomorrow (CoT) were run at Bristol this week. What is the car of tomorrow? Taller, wider, slower, and hopefully, safer. The drivers roll cage has been moved back and the driver's seat has
moved 4 inches towards the center of the car. This provides a larger crumple
zone around the driver and will help protect him in a side impact. After Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was killed at Daytona, NASCAR realized that changes needed to be made. It started with the SAFER barriers at the track, the requirement that drivers wear the full face helmet, and additional safety precautions inside existing cars. The CoT is the next step.
It has taken over five years to design the NASCAR Car Of Tomorrow from
the ground up to be safer, more competitive and cheaper for the race
teams. Spending extensive time on the drawing board, computer
simulations, in the wind tunnel and on the track to design the ideal
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race car.
The exhaust system in the Car Of Tomorrow has been rerouted and designed to keep heat away from the driver, to reduce fatigue the exhaustion and heat blisters that occur today.
Aerodynamics were borrowed from the Craftsman Truck Series. The windshield stands up straighter to catch the wind, increasedrag and
slow the cars. The front bumper has been redesigned to catch
the air instead of cut through it and a large "wing" has been placed on the trunk.
Being less aerodynamic, the Car Of Tomorrow will also be less dependent on the wind for its stability. This will help the cars drive
better in traffic and will reduce the "aero push" which causes difficulty for cars passing at high speed.How do the fans feel? Well, according to NASCAR.com: Yes, it has that funny-looking splitter in front, and that rear wing
that sends stock-car purists into fits of angry protestation.
But, as David Caraviello says, "Get over it. Because if the Car of Tomorrow truly is the great leap
forward in driver safety that NASCAR makes it out to be, then all the
competition headaches are worth it."
I wholeheartedly agree. No sport is worth another death.