Testing at Talladega gives a taste of 2013
by Bran Strickland
bstrickland@annistonstar.com
Oct 04, 2012 | 6061 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A test model of one of NASCAR's 2013 cars - disguised with the checkerboard paint pattern - makes its way around the Talladega Superspeedway on Wednesday. (Photo by Brian Schoenhals/Consolidated News Service)
A test model of one of NASCAR's 2013 cars - disguised with the checkerboard paint pattern - makes its way around the Talladega Superspeedway on Wednesday. (Photo by Brian Schoenhals/Consolidated News Service)
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TALLADEGA — National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, that’s what NASCAR stands for. But over the years, fans have argued the “S” didn’t mean anything anymore.

Robin Pemberton admitted as much Wednesday at Talladega Superspeedway. The vice president of competition in NASCAR even went so far as to call those once dubbed, “The Car of Tomorrow” as generic.

But there was nothing generic about the rides that raced around the 2.66-mile tri-oval on Wednesday.

In a test for the 2013 models, there were different humps and curves to the sheet metal of the Fords, Chevrolets and Toyotas. It’s all, he said, because the sport heard the fans and did something about it.

“We took the uniqueness out of it,” he said. “… we got away from some of the detail.”

These new cars won’t be on the track this weekend when the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 rolls into town, but it will be the latest change for NASCAR when the green flag drops next season. With each automaker greatly involved in the process, it harkens to the days when a car could be rolled off the showroom floor and raced with minor alterations.

While those alterations will be much greater in today’s age of great attention to safety, car enthusiasts will be able to spot the make without looking for a sticker emblazoned on the hood.

Other alterations have been made inside the cars, too. Chase for the Sprint Cup qualifier Kasey Kahne said inside the look is different, but it’s nothing compared to the outside.

The same went for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., another of the six drivers who got behind the wheel for the six-hour session.

“Now, I think most fans pull for a team,” he said. “With this, they’ll be back to pulling for manufactures.”

From the nose to the different lines of the sides of the car, the changes were easy to spot for those accustomed to what appears on the streets and highways. Chevrolet, however, was a little more coy. With the automaker yet to release the showroom cousin to its SS model, Wednesday’s cars donned a psychedelic checkerboard pattern. It was an optical illusion used not to give away the car’s true character.

While Wednesday’s test talk often went to the looks of the cars, NASCAR’s main priority was how they’d race when they hit Daytona for the sport’s season-opening event in February. NASCAR collected data on aerodynamics, cooling and overall drivability both in single-car and drafting packs in what could be real-to-life setup situations all the way down to the 29/32-inch restrictor plate.

Drivers reported speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, and said the racing seemed to be better with the cars possessing the ability to move around and even gain momentum alone in multi-car runs.

With the racier performance, Kahne even reported something sure to perk up any NASCAR fan’s ears in terms of the excitement that has always been associated with Talladega Superspeedway.

“They’ll be easier to wreck,” he said.

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