It didn’t take Kevin Harvick long to realize the folly of his own words last Sunday.
Moments after driving his car into Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway, he didn’t have anything good to say about the way his race car drove during the race.
While his concerns were far more guarded than others, it proved there is a growing concern with NASCAR’s Generation 6 race car.
The newest car certainly is fast. Track records already have been broken 17 times this year.
But much like older versions, the new car remains perilously dependent on clean air. Harvick won the pole at Kansas, and he led the most laps before winning by 100 yards. And yet he talked about driving two different cars – one that drove well out front; another that teetered close to crashing.
“We had one that was really fast out front and we had one that we really sometimes tight, sometimes really loose in traffic,” Harvick said. “You had to try to manipulate the car to make it through the corner.”
Others had the same troubles, but without winning results. NASCAR is looking for a solution. It knows the lead car in a restart has the advantage of clean air – and the downforce that comes with it – while everyone else struggles to find traction.
The sanctioning body soon hopes to find some solutions when it conducts a test session to try out new suspension and aerodynamic devices.
Jeff Gordon and Harvick believe some of the solutions might be with the racetracks. New pavement adds speed – and treachery – to the cars. Fixing a track might be a lot cheaper and easier than hundreds of race cars.
For now the new car will get most of the attention. But nobody believes the overwhelming advantage that comes with track position will go away.
“Track position is always going to be important,” McMurray said. “I don’t think they’re ever going to get any type of a race car that to be in the back is going to benefit you. ... so it will be interesting after that test to see how that works out and try all the ideas that they have.”
Until then, some race winners will have the same concerns as everyone else.
“Yeah, we definitely don’t need to say what we said that because we don’t want the karma police to come get us,” Harvick said.
Fighting the race car is hard enough.