Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How Good Is Old School?

MD80891 makes good points in discussing the COT spin campaign that began almost as soon as the checkered flag fell at Bristol. Among the points he makes is the repeated use of the term "old school" by defenders of the COT. It is worth examining because there is a very romanticized view of Old School racing and one needs to look back to see how much of that romanticized view is really relevent to the present.

An argument often made is that "back in the day" the racers had to really drive their cars, had to manhandle their cars, etc. whereas modern drivers simply aim their cars, do not have to exert themselves as much, and so forth. What this argument so often ignores is that back in the day there were quite a few differences in the cars compared to today - they were substantially heavier; they ran bias-ply tires which could be "raced" differently from radials, a difference still seen today at tracks such as NHIS where Busch East cars run bias-plies when running companion races with Winston Cup, BGN, and Trucks; a lot of the limits placed on the cars today, such as sway bar size and mounting, were not issues back then; template rules were far more relaxed by today's standards; and the cars had just over half the horsepower of present cars. They were thus some five or more seconds a lap slower at virtually all the tracks compared to today.

There were also some important differences to some of the tracks, Bristol in particular. It had an asphalt surface that was frequently treated with sealer to prevent cracking. It was notorious for forcing cars to run the high grooves and when cars wanted to race side by side they did so with more frequency than on concrete surfaces.

When discussing aerodynamics a common argument is that the cars back then didn't run as much spoiler etc. as today, an argument that ignores that spoiler sizes increased as the cars got faster and less stable; when NASCAR faced issues of car stability it answered by increasing downforce, and it consistently worked. The "old school" revisionism of today ignores that the drivers then wanted more, not less, grip for their cars, and teams worked to get more grip - indeed, Kyle Busch's postrace blast at the COT at Bristol mirrored driver complaints about the cars they'd had to switch to early in 1978 - "The Dodge Magnum is undriveable at 190," Richard Petty said while Donnie Allison said, "I can't drive the Olds, it moves around too much." Cale Yarborough said in Daytona qualifying, "I couldn't hold my breath any longer, you wouldn't believe how unstable the car is." NASCAR increased spoiler size to get the cars stable, and things more or less settled down.

The simple fact is that Old School racing was often better than today, but it was never because of lack of stability or lack of grip; the cars had as much grip as was possible back then. Certainly "back in the day" the answer to issues of competition was never to punish aggressive racing or setups; it was never to cut downforce.

The implicit notion is that "Old School" drivers would not want more grip for their cars, would not want this or that, etc. This, though, ignores that racers want to be able to race in a car that sticks to the track and can take the lead of the race; the old school fought for more downforce and so forth as much as today's generation of racers.

Nostalgia for the old school isn't a bad thing, until it is distorted to justify a bad rules package. The Old School was cited to defend the varied incarnations of the failed 5&5 rule and is being used again to justify the COT. When this happens then "old school" becomes unrecognizible.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Southeastern 500 Winners And Losers

The Southeastern 500 of 2007 has been run and Kyle Busch survived a late scare from Jeff Burton for his first win of the season. Being the debut race of NASCAR's SpecCar/Car Of Tomorrow it has gotten unusually tight attention, and a listing of winners and losers is in order.



- Two of their cars could either struggle or hit the wall and yet the Hendrick fleet has enough depth to win and finish in the top three. Jeff Gordon's rally from a mediocre mid-portion of the race was somewhat surprising given that his effort over the past year has been more uneven than it had been over the course of his career. Casey Mears, meanwhile, recovered from several incidents and finished an encouraging tenth.

RCR ENTERPRISES - Kevin Harvick had a dismal qualifying session, yet through pit cycling and some hard running he finished fourth. Jeff Burton, meanwhile, nearly stole the whole show at the end with an audacious restart in the final laps, passing Jeff Gordon high with two to go. Clint Bowyer, meanwhile, went largely unnoticed en route to a solid eighth place.

JEFF GREEN - Strong all weekend, Green finally got breaks his way to finish sixth.

JAMIE McMURRAY - The black sheep of the Roush/Fenway fleet finally surged forward in a race and hung tough all day.

CARL EDWARDS - Over the last year-plus seeing Carl Edwards running strong has become less and less frequent, but here he was mixing it up well after his BGN win.

BRIAN VICKERS and MIKE BLISS - Just making the race was an accomplishment; running strong all day was even better.


But with winners, we have plenty of losers -


- Finally fans got to see what a year of testing indicated - the car races poorly in dirty air. Kyle Busch made that point abundantly clear. Literally no one could get the car balanced properly and anyone from fifth on back was largely DOA as far as catching the leaders went. For the entirety of the race the drivers could ill-afford to race aggressively; of course being Bristol this fact could be explained away, but the COT's punishment of aggressive racing and setups nonetheless showed itself to all.

ROBERT YATES RACING - All of a sudden David Gilliland is falling off the map; the wreck can't be blamed on him but it comes amid less and less muscle being displayed in his racing. Ricky Rudd meanwhile looks just plain poor in that racecar.

RAY EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS - They all qualified superbly and for awhile raced well, but blown tires and wrecks wiped out any chance of a decent finish.

JOE GIBBS RACING - This is one that will haunt the organization for awhile. First Tony Stewart has the race in his hip pocket and then a fuel pump cable breaks and he loses 25 laps. Then Denny Hamlin takes over but late in the race gets waylaid in lapped traffic and loses the lead, then almost wrecks on a late restart and loses the top ten.

DAVID RAGAN - Welcome to Bristol, David - did your dad Ken ever talk about this place?

JUAN MONTOYA - He was one of the few drivers actually trying to make something happen, and it cost him big time; that he only lost seven laps is amazing.

MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING - Talladega headline - "MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING A NO-GO AT TALLADEGA: Former track winners Waltrip, Jarrett once again fail to qualify" - yes, chances are it's come down to this for Dale Jarrett.

ROBERT GINN RACING - Regan Smith took over for Mark Martin as scheduled, but it was a bad weekend for the organization as Joe Nemechek failed to make the race and both Smith and Sterling Marlin had subpar days.

DODGE - The highest-finishing Dodge was David Stremme in 12th. It was a bad day all around - Ganassi's Avengers aside from Stremme wrecked or spun; Evernham's guys wrecked; Petty's two Dodges could never get out of traffic; and Penske's Panzers resembled George Peppard's flame-thrower scenes in Tobruk.

- NASCAR was a loser not just because of the poor showing of the COT, it was also a loser with AT&T's lawsuit over NASCAR's ban on use of its logos on Jeff Burton's car. It brings back reminder that NASCAR is overstepping badly in dictating to sponsors instead of welcoming them with open arms.


So now the SpecCar travels to Martinsville, and chances are its weaknesses as a racecar will be exacerbated by Martinsville's hairpin flatness.

Stay tuned for more verbiage like from Kyle Busch after winning the Southeastern 500.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

IRL Begins Difficult Season

The Indy Racing League begins what is likely to be a difficult season with the Homestead 300 on Saturday night. The 2006 season was difficult enough with only two teams all but monopolizing the season and Penske Racing winning it all yet again, something they weren't able to do earlier this decade in IRL.

Therein lies the league's competitive difficulty. Earlier this decade it showed a nice diversity of winners and could be counted on for breathtakingly ferocious racing up front - its intermediate superspeedway races were must-see races with all-time greats at Texas in 1998, 2000, 2001 (twice), and 2002, at Chicagoland in 2002-4, and at Kansas in 2001, 2004, and 2005. Kentucky also displayed excellent racing in 2000, 2002, and 2004 and the 500 saw some terrific racing in 2005 followed by its greatest finish ever in 2006.

Homestead qualifying didn't indicate that the ennui of 2006 will change right now, as Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon won the pole and Sam Hornish of Penske timed second. Andretti-Green Racing had several strong spots other than Little Miss Perfect Danica Patrick, who was slower this year than she was last year and was well off the pace of her teammates. Maybe this year the league as a group finally figures out that Danica Patrick is a fraud.

Uninspired qualifying efforts came from Panther Racing, Vision Racing, and A.J. Foyt's team; the downfall of Foyt's team remains a stain on Indycar racing.

IRL has restructured its management team for 2007 and that restructured management needs to come up with some different ideas as well as to get back to what made Indycar racing great. It needs larger car counts and it needs much better racing than it generally had last year. The kind of continuous sidedraft battles up front that were once a staple of the league became a rarity in 2006, never a good sign for racing.

It needs, in short, to make itself relevent again.

POSTSCRIPT - Dan Wheldon pretty much had his way in a rain-marred Miami Indy 300, beating the Penske cars and an encouraging effort by Panther Racing. Andretti-Green Racing had a terrible night. The racing was for the most part uncompetitive, showing how much work the league faces in improving its competitive product and also showcasing how overrated the use of progressive banking is for racetracks.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Two Kinds Of Gas Pains In Iraq

Two kinds of gas pains can be found in Iraq right now. The first is the use of poison gases by the enemy and its comparative ineffectiveness, a possible sign amid the surging success of the recent Baghdad cleanup that the enemy is weakening more.

Then there is the absurd system of gas station rationing seen in Tikrit, which shows how backward that area of the world can be and how difficult it is to fix it. Nonetheless, one can feel confident that even this will see positive change.

A Superbly Biting Look At Billary Milhous Clinton

One has to look pretty far to find a better, more biting look at the bizarre phenomenon known as Bill and Hillary.

NASCAR Needs To Decide Something

The question of just what NASCAR really is right now is a pertinent one with more and more controversy over more and more areas of the sport and with the twin obsessions of TV ratings and attendence still a serious issue. It is often said, "NASCAR is big business." But one needs to ask the question - just how much is the business aspect of the sport supposed to trump the sporting aspect?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bristol Debuts SpecCar

NASCAR's Car Of Tomorrow arrives at Bristol for real this weekend, and will certainly be the most micro-inspected NASCAR project in memory. In these analyses we will hear a lot about how the use of a wing instead of spoiler reduces turbulence behind a car and thus theoretically allow a trailing car to close up to pass. Never cited, however, is any example of passing increasing due to reduced turbulence. On the contrary, Indycar racing experience has proven that the opposite is the case, especially on superspeedways, where adding air-displacement devices and/or simply bulking up the bodies to generate more turbulence was what increased passing - yes, that pesky draft again, guys. It would seem that IRL has had to relearn that lesson as it reduced drag on its rear wings in 2006 but may be adding it back for 2007.

There is also the theory that the design will eliminate the variances in individual car designs so that teams can reuse superspeedway cars on short tracks and vice versa. No one, though, seems to be asking just what all those engineers on the sport's mega-teams are supposed to do with the Car Of Tomorrow. Can anyone buy the notion that these engineers are not going to attack the COT's tolerances and slice open holes to exploit and thus kill NASCAR's much-hoped cost reduction?

Then there is the fundamental unsoundness of the design. It is said the car will evolve, but given this it is impossible not to see it evolving back to what the cars have been for the last ten-plus years now - with a flush airdam, chopped roof, spoiler instead of a wing, etc. This basic design has proven itself sound.

While we'll need to see the race to start getting some answers, one thing should be certain - if the Car Of Tomorrow produces any kind of quality racing, it will be the biggest surprise in the sport in years.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

NASCAR Now Overstepping - Badly

"Big Bill Sr. never competed with the companies that sponsored his sport's cars. He saw them as partners, and told his children that you didn't take food off a partner's plate."

Shaun Assael, WIDE OPEN: Days And Nights On The NASCAR Tour

NASCAR may now have begun going too far. Of course one can make the case that it crossed that Rubicon years ago, but now sponsors of racecars are under attack from the sanctioning body. It is now known that NASCAR has tried to strongarm at least one big-name sponsor into sponsoring a race, contingency award, and/or other action on top of what was already purchased, a combined cost that has driven some sponsors (as well as NBC Sports) out of the game altogether - as Athlon Sports put it before the season, "It made no sense for NBC to continue losing dollars, and the fault lies with NASCAR for demanding astronomical rights fees." By extension this includes sponsors directly priced out of the game by NASCAR "asking" them to spend money on areas they didn't want to go to.

Then there is NASCAR's Drive For Diversity, which is beginning to show the favoritism universal to all such "diversity" boondoggles when Juan Monotya was allowed to run at Darlington in a Goodyear tire test even though he wasn't scheduled for that test; the excuse that he has yet to run there in a Winston Cup race applies to David Ragan, Paul Menard, and the other rookies of this season, but then they're not "the chosen one" for the Drive For Diversity.

Now NASCAR is in trouble on two sponsor fronts. First it strongarmed Robby Gordon into yanking Motorola sponsorship decals from his car, and now it faces a lawsuit by AT&T over restrictions placed on its Cingular wireless logos on Jeff Burton's Chevrolet. More than one observor is noting the blatant absurdity of NASCAR's direct attack on some sponsors, and one need recall the flap that erupted over Kevin Harvick's Shell Oil sponsorship at the Daytona 500, a flap instigated by series sponsor Sunoco.

Such bullying crosses another line that the sport for so long recognized could not afford to be crossed, but which the Brian France administration more and more refuses to recognize. Clearly Brian France cannot be trusted with the sanctioning body anymore, and bullying of sponsors is all the reason one needs to fight back against him.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Post-Vegas Miscellenia

With the Vegas 400 weekend wrapped up, some miscellenia:


The Race-Stream Media has been pushing Mark Martin to run the full 2007 schedule despite Martin's protestation against it. It seems that the motive behind the RSM's lobbying is to have something interesting to write about.

It certainly shows how covering the sport has become problematic with the lack of good competition and the media's endless hunger for soundbiting athletes. Certainly Martin is a better interview than Jimmie Johnson or the other Hendrick drivers, but for the RSM to lobby a driver to change his mind reflects poorly on them. If Martin does not want to run the ful schedule, then leave him alone about it.


The outstanding quality of the Vegas 400, alas, was the same quality of so many races - it was what didn't happen that was the big story. There wasn't much side by side racing up front, and between the increase in speeds, the lack of downforce, and a repaved surface that several complained was poorly done, it turned out not to be much different from other Vegas races. NASCAR and Bruton Smith got lucky in the Vegas 300, as a late yellow set up another crashing finish - so far this year we've seen late-race-deciding melees at Daytona, Mexico, and now Vegas.

It reflects the reality that the sport's competition package is so ineffective that late yellows, or a flurry of yellows, remain almost the only way to get any kind of memorable competition out of the sport. The increased banking didn't help - the Vegas 300 finish was like the Vegas 400 finish last year when Jimmie Johnson sidedrafted past Matt Kenseth up high on the final lap, on the old flat layout.


Bruton Smith commented that "I want more Montoya." By this he apparantly meant that he wants more of the kind of racing Montoya showed in the Mexico BGN GP when he nailed erstwhile teammate Scott Pruett into a spin. Montoya's belligerent move in that race, though, crossed the line between aggressive racing and bullying; this sport doesn't need another Dale Earnhardt.

It also reflects how timid his oval racing is right now. He flat looks like a rookie, and a very timid one, on the ovals right now, which I'm sure perplexes quite a few people who want to see him win. Now some of it is the usual assortment of unforseen and often strange occurrances common to racing - breaking in the BGN race was hardly part of the career plan. But his overall oval timidity isn't an encouraging sign; when he hit CART and F1 as a rookie he had far more confidence as a racer and it showed up right away. Right now, however, he's not progressing, and his timidity brings to mind the reality that an overaggressive rookie can be calmed down, but a timid rookie can never be fired up.


Could Kasey Kahne turn out to be a one-season wonder? His start to this season has been pretty bad despite running strong pretty much everywhere. He clearly wanted to avoid a repeat of his wreck in the Vegas 300, but what happened? He got a repeat of that wreck anyway.


Ward Burton made his first race of the year. For all the good it did, he might as well have stayed home. The track time he's lost will never be made up for him this year.


With Vegas wrapped up it's on to Atlanta, which has struggled to sell out the last number of years. Vegas sold superbly; it will be interesting to see if Atlanta sees any serious void of empty seating.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Islamo-Arab Imperialism Gets Schooled

Islamo-Arab imperialism isn't just military aggression, though military aggression is a key component. This manifesto by the Muslim Council of Britain for British treatment of Muslim students lays bare another aspect of Islamo-Arab imperialism - soft bullying of society to conform to the oppressive culture of Islam.

Just say no.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Borges Gets Burned For Real

It's a week of joy for a great many members of the fanbase of the New England Patriots, because the worst excuse for a reporter to cover the Patriots has been suspended without pay from the Boston Globe for plagurizing an article from a Tacoma, WA paper.

Seeing Ron Borges crash and burn is one of those rare examples of a story developing piece by piece in rapid fashion but it is also an example of sadistic joy. Borges has been a Broadsheet Bully for many years. Some, such as Glen Ordway of WEEI Radio in Boston, have stated that Borges is driven by a hard agenda, but that at least some of his critics are also agenda-driven in that they use his anti-Bill Belichick attitude as a reason on top of the plagurism to attack Borges until he is finished in media.

What those who offer this line of reasoning ignore is that Borges pushes an agenda that is contrary to reality and which in fact is detrimental to the success of the team he has covered. Bill Belichick does not cooperate with the sports media to any significant extent, because it does nothing to advance his cause - leading the Patriots to success. On the contrary, the media can help defeat a team by fostering acrimony, internal dissent, and so forth - most spectacularly seen by Dan "The Shank" Shaughnessy and his slanted reporting that helped lead to the Theo Epstein episode of late-2005.

Borges' coverage of the Patriots is aimed at discrediting their coach; that Borges has failed to do so does not stop him from this agenda. Why he pushes such an absurd agenda is a mystery. In any event Borges has let the general hate that permeates his reporting get the best of him, and for this his downfall should be greeted positively.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Robin Miller Still Doesn't Get It

Robin Miller authors a self-pitying soliloquy on being fired from several media outlets over the years where he pats himself on the back for attacking the IRL from its beginning in 1996 and for the fact that some have lamented the evolution of the series into "CART Lite" (A.J. Foyt's term). Now certainly there is ample reason to take IRL's present course to task, but Miller's slightly revisionist history needs rebuttal.

The Indy 500 has lost lister and crowds, but claiming it's because of the IRL is wrong, because the IRL, even when on the wrong track as it's been since 2003, has nonetheless produced much better racing than most of what its chief open wheel rival, CART, ever did, and one needs to remember that open wheel racing was already in noticable decline in 1994-5 because of CART.

CART was a mistake to begin with. Born in 1979 from Roger Penske and Pat Patrick, it was able to spring to life thanks to the power vacuum at USAC following Anton Hulman's death and the deaths of several key USAC officials in a 1978 plane crash. CART was a sanctioning body run by the sport's richest car owners for their own competitive self-aggrandizement. The corrupt nature of CART was graphically illustrated by the late Andy Kenopensky's running and loud battle against CART during the 1980s and given what amounted to written form by 1993's CART White Paper on conflict of interest within the sanctioning body, a paper that showed CART was run "like a white's only country club," as writer Joe Scalzo put it at the time.

Tony George founded IRL in 1996 amid near-universal condemnation. CART was advertised as "The Real Stars, The Real Cars, The Real Race." It was none of the above; it was a closed-loop of super-rich teams buying championships. IRL in its first handful of years was closer to mid-1970s NASCAR in that it was peopled with small, scrappy raceteams and produced excellent racing. Indeed, it was IRL that directly influenced CART into the one mechanical change that actually improved racing - after IRL's exciting Texas Indy 300 in June 1998, a competitive race made such by bigger IRL wings and bulky ram-air scoops atop the cars, CART developed the Hanford rail for its superspeedway wings to increase the power of the draft. It succeeded at the 1998 Michigan 500 as the lead changed 63 times, obliterating the record for a 500-mile open wheel race by a factor of some 100%.

Open wheel racing became relevent again with IRL and both bodies produced ferocious superspeedway battles with draft-inducing bodies and add-on pieces; IRL produced must-see 300-milers at Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, and Chicagoland and when it took over Michigan and Fontana it produced some good racing at those venues as well; before then, CART's 500-milers at Fontana and Michigan became must-see races once the Hanford wing was mandated - the 50-lead-change barrier was broken at Michigan in 1998, 2000, and the track's CART swan song in 2001, while Fontana broke the 50-lead-change barrier in 2000 and 2001 - 2001 saw 73 lead changes, only the second automobile race of any sanctioning body to ever reach the 70-lead-change barrier.

The direction of IRL from 2003 onward, however, has been the wrong track as car counts and team counts have dropped due to the cancerous involvement of Honda and Toyota 2003-5; they helped weaken the competitiveness of the racing overall, to where only Kansas in 2005 and Chicagoland in 2006 saw truly competitive racing.

CART, meanwhile, proved a sanctioning body built on a house of cards, collapsing and being reborn under Kevin Kalkhoven into ChampCar. While that body has recoverd reasonably well from the collapse of CART, it nonetheless has its own issues with the cancellation of its Denver GP to go with its lack of exciting racing. There remains a campaign to unify the two sanctioning bodies, but in so doing championship/Indycar racing needs to relearn the lesson that retro-technology and a powerful draft on the superspeedways are what make better racing and what wins fans more than high-tech; that including American short track open wheelers into Indycar racing's field of contenders remains a must; and that car owners must never have a decisive role in rulesmaking, because rules need to be made with the big picture in mind always.

It's a lesson NASCAR needs to relearn as well.

If you ever get a chance to see tapes of the following open-wheel races (some of them are available in highlight form at YouTube), do so, for you will see racing in its purest form -

1990 CART Michigan 500
1992 CART Michigan 500
1996 IRL Las Vegas 300
1998 IRL Texas Indy 300
1998 CART Michigan 500
1999 IRL Texas Indy 300
2000 IRL Texas Indy 300
2000 CART Michigan 500
2000 IRL Kentucky Indy 300
2000 CART California 500
2001 IRL Texas Indy 300
2001 CART Michigan 500
2001 IRL Kansas Indy 300
2001 IRL Lone Star Indy 300
2001 CART California 500
2002 IRL California Indy 400
2002 IRL Kentucky Indy 300
2002 IRL Chicago Indy 300
2002 IRL Lone Star Indy 300
2003 IRL Michigan Indy 400
2003 IRL Chicago Indy 300
2004 IRL Kansas Indy 300
2004 IRL Chicago Indy 300
2005 IRL Kansas Indy 300

Obama Flunks On Facts, Shown In AIPAC Speech

First off, this repost from February 22 -

Barack Obama claims liberal arguments are grounded in reason and fact. He's lying. Of course it isn't stopping him from "reaching out" for a nonexistent consensus.

More recently his foolishness on foreign policy was shown in his recent speech before AIPAC. He kept attacking George W. Bush on Iraq without understanding that he was right about Iraq; that Obama was speaking before a body with members with firsthand knowledge of Saddam Hussein's war (by proxy via Al Qaida and the PLO, and otherwise via direct military attack) against Israel as well as the US is an irony hopefully not lost on anyone in attendence.

The MSM will beatify Obama, but the fact is he is a foolish lightweight.

A Superior COT Analysis

Check out this superior analysis of the Spec Car.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Al "Ron Borges" Gore


Of course people did stop Al Gore in 2000, but he's still out there and looking like he's trying for the White House yet again. His crusade is against "global warming," and it is treated as a religious crusade with the full approval of the MSM. Too bad the MSM won't reveal the truth about Gore's greed-mongering motive behind his crusade. But then it also would prefer to skate over this.

Some may want to imagine what a Gore Administration would look like - trouble is it isn't a positive vision.

WEEI Radio Boston had a hilariously deranged incident where former NFL player Steve DeOssie ripped a particularly obnoxious caller (known as Dakota From Braintree; and he is as obnoxious as this piece implies) as "the Ron Borges of WEEI callers." a reference to the serial falsification in his reporting by Boston Globe sportswriter Ron Borges. I guess we could call Al Gore the Ron Borges of liberalism - except liberalism consists entirely of Ron Borges types.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Stop Punishing Aggressive Competition

Hey NASCAR, stop punishing aggressive competition.

More Reality On Iraq

Chances are you didn't know this, but this shows that real progress is being made in Iraq to go with the progress already made - progress of course covered up by the MSM's endless gloom-and-doom coverage of Iraq to go with the absurd "debate" in Congress over funding of the war, a "debate" that has shown how two-faced some people really are, in keeping with the general level of disingenuity among the Democrats.

Bristol COT Test

Bristol ran the COT's most recent pre-competition test session during the late-winter bye week for Winston Cup, and it allowed teams and drivers to further shake down these cars before their debut at the end of March.

The test produced several incidents, notably Ward Burton's crash during an added night session on the first day of testing and Clint Bowyer's wreck late in the test. It also saw teams attacking front-end grip to keep the splitter off the ground. The speeds as expected were noticably off the track record, but then the cars will be faster than what they were in this test come late-March's Southeastern 500.

Some drivers expressed surprise at how well the cars drove, but what was interesting was what was not said - no indication was given that the cars race well. In fact, the consensus seemed to be that the cars don't race well. Of course being Bristol it isn't the best venue to gauge long-term raceability with these cars - and in this test only twelve cars were ever on the track at any point of the test - but it nonetheless can tell us something, and that there seemed indication that the car does not race well seems in keeping with the running theme of COT testing - the car's inferior raceability in dirty air. And given how important it will be to keep the splitter off the ground, it seems unlikely that truly raceable setups will proliferate come the Southeastern 500.

Of course the mantra was repeated that "The COT is here," but there remains no guarantee that it will stay here. Given shrinkage in attendence and TV ratings, the sport is taking a chance with the COT and had better have a backup plan for the project's likely failure to live up to its hype.

What the Bristol test seemed to confirm is one of the key problems with the COT - it punishes aggressive driving and aggressive setups. Those, though, are the kind of driving and setups that make good racing; conservative driving and setups has never made good competitive racing. This bottom line is a bottom line NASCAR can ill-afford to have to relearn.