The recent and sudden departure of Dodge from Nextel Cup is another reason to question what the top dog level of stock car really represents in 2012.
The cars are about as close to stock as a kangaroo is to a Pomeranian dog.
The measurement for success extends from multi-million dollar engineering programs instead of top flight mechanics working on race versions of street engines.
The 2012 NASCAR fact is most of the cars are based upon front wheel drive cars that have four-banger engines in many cases. At least Dodge based their Charger cars on a rear wheel drive production car with Hemi options before their only race team dumped them in favor of Ford.
There is a solution to the problem. I would require that NASCAR insist that “you run what you brung” in Nextel. If Ford wants to run a Focus, then Ford should put a four door- front wheel drive car on the track, complete with the same cylinder number as their showroom brethren.
I am still not comfortable with Toyota in the circuit because I have always believed that NASCAR should be based upon the American brands, but Toyota should also be forced to use the stock configuration on their Cup cars.
The practical function of an economy model Toyota sedan has never been lost on its consumers, but to expect me to accept a track version of these otherwise inconsequential cars is too much for this stock car racing fan to accept.
Maybe I am wrong about this whole idea of racing front wheel drive four-door sedans on the track as sleek racing monsters, but I doubt it. The idea of “win on Sunday- sell on Monday” always made sense as a great sales tactic to me in my younger days.
Sure I was too young to actually own a muscle car in the 60s, but I would have taken a serious run at ownership had I been old enough to buy a dealer version of the track monsters from that era of NASCAR.
It was very easy to spot the difference between the Big Three track competitors in those days because they looked like the cars available at the dealerships. The track cars had the same basic body lines and number of doors as the dealer cars and that was part of the appeal.
2012 Cup cars are the end result of very intense and expensive engineering programs that pit nerd teams against other nerd teams to decide who has the upper hand in a race before the actual pit crews and drivers get their turn in the game.
The NASCAR Cup program is closer to the F-1 program than ever before in racing history because drivers play less of a role in team success in 2012. Sure you still need the best drivers on the best teams in either series to win races, but gone are the days when a NASCAR driver could drive junk to the front and win a race because of his own skills.
I miss that kind of NASCAR racing.
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