NASCAR Week Three – Carl Edwards win, and Gen 6 Car's Disappointing Start


In two lackluster races into the NASCAR Sprint Cup season we have seen the cream rising to the top.  Carl Edwards, the driver of the 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, ended a winless streak which stretched 70 races.  Let’s take a closer look at Carl.

Credit: sidehike via photopin cc
Credit: sidehike via photopin cc

Edwards was born in August of 1979 in Columbia, Missouri where he still resides.  Carl’s career began in 2003 where he raced in the NASCAR truck series.  In 2005 he was awarded the Nationwide Rookie of the Year Award and his career was well on its way.  Perhaps his greatest season thus far is also his most disappointing.  In 2011, Edwards had a 3 point lead going into the final race at Homestead.  Despite leading the most laps and finishing second in that race he finished the season tied with Tony Stewart.  Stewart was awarded the championship based on victories.

Edwards is married and his wife Katherine is a Doctor.  He is a huge fan of the WWE and once appeared at WrestleMania.  Wrestler John Cena is one of his closest friends.  Carl’s fans love his celebratory back flip which he does after each victory.   Not sure if his fellow drivers enjoy the back flip as much.

On to Las Vegas we go.  Much talk has centered around the new Gen 6 car (Edwards at Phoenix seen above) and its impact on passing.  After a lackluster Daytona 500 in which the drivers themselves were more culpable then the vehicle in which they drove, Phoenix’s lack of passing seems to point towards the vehicle itself.   The take from some of the drivers was the car just doesn’t lend itself to passing.  Jimmie Johnson was quoted as saying, “Right here on this blacktop, there’s a lot of work to be done to create better racing and keep the fans in the grandstands.”

Denny Hamlin was even more vocal concerning the performance of the Gen 6 car saying it raced worse than last season’s COT (Car of tomorrow).   “The realistic fact of it is I did not pass many cars today.”  If your third place finisher says he didn’t pass many cars today then Houston, we have a problem.  Your fourth place finisher, Brad Keselowski noted how aero sensitive the cars were while complaining about the ability to pass.

This new Gen 6 car was supposed to improve the two biggest complaints about the COT car, namely the aero issues and identification.  They’ve achieved success with the Identification piece as you can clearly distinguish between auto manufacturers now.    Thus far they have failed miserably with the aero problems.  These cars seem to be very difficult to drive and have resulted in two very bland races to start the season.

Of course we hear from the NASCAR apologist, some who work for Satellite Radio talk shows, who think the Gen 6 car, has worked wonderfully.  I’ve heard them argue that the reason for the lack of passing is because the car has made everyone so equal and that passing should be hard as it places an emphasis on the skill of the driver.  It’s exactly this kind of “head in the sand” mentality that created the poor racing of the COT and turned off many paying racing enthusiast.  If you need evidence, check out the empty seats at many races.  It’s not all about the economy.  People want to be entertained by exciting side by side racing, not the crap we’ve ended up seeing way to many times these past three seasons.

Apologists aside, I do think NASCAR is aware of the issues.  How could they not be?  They surely see the empty seats in the stands and realize that the races need to be more exciting.  This week’s race is on a cookie cutter mile and a half track that now makes up a good portion of the race tracks on NASCAR’s schedule.  This will be a very good opportunity for NASCAR to make strides in getting the Gen 6 car to race like a stock car.  We fans will have to be a bit patient but this car will get better as the season moves along.  It better.

My top three for Las Vegas:

1. Greg Biffle

2. Tony Stewart

3. Jimmie Johnson

Feel free to leave your comments below. You can follow me @JimLaplante and the site @LastWordonSport.

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