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- Published on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 19:42
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The NASCAR Nationwide Series new car made its second appearance last weekend at Michigan International Speedway. The race featured a different track distance and layout than its debut at the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway. It may not have had the storybook outcome of the historic July 2nd race, an emotional win for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet, but it does have the same air of excitement aimed at the new models for Dodge (Challenger), Ford (Mustang), and the sporty look of the Chevrolet Impala.
Too bad GM will not race its new Camaro. It seems like a natural and a big step forward; the big three manufacturers each racing their new generation pony cars. It also gives the Nationwide series a distinctively different look from the cars in the Cup Series. Unfortunately, Toyota does not have a pony car so they will stick with their Camry. Maybe someone can put a bug in GM’s ear. Get with it guys. Race the Camaro.
“Now that we’re at our second race, we’re looking to make sure we standardize our process and procedures,” said series director Joe Balash. “We want the teams to be familiar with our level of expectation for them. As we move forward after Michigan, we hope to stop talking about the newness of it and get into the fabric of what we are.”
The new car will race twice more this year: September 10 at Richmond International Raceway and October 15 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, before being introduced full time in 2011.
Here’s a summary of what’s new in the next generation car:
Nose Section - The front of the car is wider than the current Nationwide series car. The headlight area is more vertical, increasing drag on the car and giving the manufacturers more area for detail. The front bumper lines up with the rear bumper, making for easier bump drafting and less tendency to submarine on front-end impacts.
Cockpit - The driver is moved closer to the center of the vehicle, allowing a larger safety distance from the outer skin of the car. The roof line is taller, allowing for large side windows and more driver head room. The taller roof line also allows the installation of larger roof flaps to keep the car on the ground in the event of a spin.
Rear Deck and Spoiler - The rear deck is mounted higher than the current car to help with front to rear balance and stability. The rear spoiler is fixed at 70 degrees. Extensions will be permitted to adjust aerodynamic balance.
Wheelbase - The new chassis increases the Wheelbase from the current 105 inches to 110 inches to accommodate the larger center section of the chassis.
On the Cup Circuit, there were eight drivers in the top ten who have previous wins at Michigan. Mark Martin can find victory lane in his sleep; he rolled into the Irish Hills last weekend with five wins at the 2 mile oval to his résumé. Many of the drivers regard Michigan as one of their favorite stops on the tour.
“I like a track where the driver can make somewhat of a difference,” said Denny Hamlin, the winner of the June race at Michigan. “Your car’s not always going to be perfect, but you can almost make it that way by the way you drive there.”
Jeff Gordon, who by the way, welcomed his new son Leo Benjamin Gordon into the world last week, has two wins at Michigan and said, “Whether it’s on a double file restart late in the race or just racing one guy ahead of you, there are a lot places to go here. We can get fanned out and run multiple grooves in the corners and down the straightaways. That makes this one of the best tracks we race on in my opinion.”
With a record-setting 11 owner wins, tied with the Wood Brothers, Roush Fenway Racing has to be considered one of the favorites every time they unload at Michigan. Roush drivers Carl Edwards, Gregg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth each have two wins at Michigan.
You may reach Pete Barber at