Phoenix has been run and NASCAR's Generation Six racecar got its first test on a track a mile or less, and Carl Edwards grabbed his first win since March 2011, but the result for NASCAR's ballyhooed new racecar was decisively poor.
The Gen-6 was in development for some three years, yet passing was as rare with this car as it was with the COT, and there was literally no sign that this new car has solved any of the sport's competition issues. "Clean air is probably more important than ever," said Brad Keselowski; "It did not race as good as our generation-five cars" (aka the COT, which raced poorly) said Denny Hamlin; Jimmie Johnson half-jokingly recommended leaving the cars alone for 20 years.
Making it worse was another chapter in tire trouble with Goodyear, which brought a harder compound (particularly on left sides) yet saw multiple tire failures, notably right fronts.
It begs the question that has plagued the sport for now over a decade - why can NASCAR not get these racecars to where they WANT to race in dirty air, where passing and repassing are NOT the exception, to where racing like in the Daytona 300 is the norm?
And it begs the question - is John Darby the problem? It has been painfully clear from the start that Darby has grossly misread the sport's competition issues and continues to do so; an ardent supporter of the COT, Darby has been in charge of the garage area yet has curiously gone without criticism from the racing media.
Certainly the high-ups at Daytona have failed again and Darby warrants criticism of his role in NASCAR's continuing failure to redress the sport's competition woes. Phoenix may be one race, but the Gen-6 was unimpressive at Daytona and was even less impressive at Phoenix, with no evidence to believe it can make things better at Vegas or down the line.