One of the biggest lessons the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers could take away from Saturday nights Sprint Unlimited non-points race at Daytona International Speedway was that the old school style of racing may be back at Daytona.
Saturday night’s race marked the competitive debut of NASCAR’s new Generation 6 racecar. Early in the event it looked like that debut would not be a good one. In past testing sessions when drivers tried to race together disaster ensued. The latest came Friday night during final practice for the Sprint Unlimited when a multi-car crash forced several teams to back up cars. On lap 14 Saturday night a multi-car crash erupted when Tony Stewart brought his Chevy down in front of the Ford of Marcos Ambrose and tapped the front of the car forcing both to slow. The field was forced to check up behind them setting off a crash that took out a total of seven cars.
As the race went on the field strung out into a single file line reminiscent of racing seen at Daytona years ago; long before the two car tandems NASCAR worked so hard to break up. Drivers agreed that the new cars seem to race much like those that raced in 2004 and 2005.
“I heard some guys talk about old school racing and it is a little bit like that,” Saturday nights second place finisher Greg Biffle said. “But when the car would get kind of a run maybe you would get sucked up there and pull out, the car would continue to kind of accelerate before it died off with its momentum. Now it seems like the car, you get a run and you side draft a guy and pull out there and it is like you put the brakes on. The thing has a bunch of drag. It is really hard to maneuver and get a run.”
“The two car tandem thing is gone and you will still get some bump-drafting,” he added. “When you have that bigger pack you will get shoved up to the guy in front of you. It is probably going to be that old school pack like that.”
Third place finisher Joey Logano agreed.
“It is like Greg said. I didn’t feel like my car was fast enough to go make those moves so when I got to someone I would just push them instead of making the move,” Logano said. “I thought that overall the cars were good. I think they are cool and they look good and they put on a pretty good race.”
Race winner Kevin Harvick expects to see more old school style racing.
“It’s going to be a pack, absolutely. I think it’s going to be a pack,” Harvick said. “You’ll see some cars breakaway. I think if you turn on a 2000 race, one of those races, it’s going to be very similar to before we went to the wicker bill.”
Teams not only have the experience gained from Saturday nights race but all the teams will have several more practices and the duel qualifying races leading up to next Sunday’s Daytona 500 to learn the new car and the way it will race.
“I think there might be some adjustments to be made to them to always make it better,” Logano said. “You never stop improving. You can always work on some things. We got what we’ve got and I think we will put on a good 500 for you.”