There was very little side-by-side racing in the new Generation 6 car during the season-opening Daytona 500 or at Phoenix. However, drivers were encouraged by a little more passing last week at Las Vegas.
With Sunday’s Food City 500 up next at Bristol Motor Speedway, nobody knows what to expect on the first short-track race of the season.
“That’s why you’ve got to watch,” Brad Keselowski said.
Bristol already has a reputation for being a tough place to make a pass. In fact, the reason fans flock to the half-mile track is the most-efficient way to get up front is to knock everyone else out of the way.
But will the newly-designed cars allow that?
“I think everybody is still trying to get a handle on this new car, so I can’t honestly say what it will do,” Aric Almirola said.
Keselowski is convinced Bristol will be more about the driver than the car. The track has 28-degree banking which creates speeds of nearly 128 mph. But more than anything else, the track requires a lot of bumping and running.
“Bristol is one of those race tracks that defines what I feel a race car driver, what characteristics I feel a driver should have to have to be successful,” Keselowski said. “To win there makes me feel like more of a racing man.”
GETTING A GRIP: Cars get better traction on pit road by using colas.
Jeff Gordon said his team sprays his pit stall with Pepsi before every race to make it sticky. When he leaves his stall, the sticky syrup keeps his tires – and pit crew – from slipping.
“We do whatever NASCAR will allow us to do,” Gordon said. “You don’t want those guys slipping and sliding around, especially the ones carrying tires and the jack. Then there are some safety issues as well, but most of the time we do it for speed.”
Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Bobby Labonte also use Pepsi. Drivers like Danica Patrick, Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin use Coca-Cola.