Besides the job interview I mentioned one of the reasons I went home so early was I wanted to be in a house where I could catch the Eldora NCWTS race. This was an historic event, the first time a national NASCAR touring series raced on dirt since 1970. I remember reading about that race as a child and thinking that now the Grand National series (as the Cup was called back then) was no longer going to be as well-rounded as it had been, because they had always been on short ovals, mid-sized ovals and superspeedways, and road courses, but now they were dropping the dirt. Well, that was then, this is now.
One thing I did notice was the trucks had essentially no grip when a driver tried to drive like a dirt car. Pitching the trucks into the turns and standing on the gas was usually “rewarded” with a spin out. The fast way around for the trucks was to treat the track as a slick paved track and drive as straight as possible and not allowing the truck to get sideways. This is (IMO) because the suspension rules were not changed to allow the suspension to travel and maintain grip on the surface. The Cup car from 2 generations back (before the “Car of Tomorrow”) might have been able to throw on a set of dirt track tires and put on a “normal” dirt show with sideways driving and spinning tires throwing dirt up into the stands, but the current NCWTS vehicles were used to design the rules for the COT and the current Cup car, which both have very limited suspension travel. And without suspension travel you don’t have grip on the dirt.
Not that this is a bad thing when everybody is playing with the same deck of cards (rule book). It just means that NCWTS trucks (and by extension the Cup and Nationwide Series) are not going to look like typical dirt track race when they race on dirt. Visually they are going to look like they are still driving on a paved track, just a little looser (slightly sideways). But the racing is still going to be exciting. I haven’t seen the ARCA cars on dirt (who never quit racing their top series on dirt, they have two tracks they visit annually) so I can’t say if what I saw from the NCWTS transfers over to stock cars that still allow a pretty substantial amount of suspension travel and have always had to get dirty.
Moving on the Rolex Series sports cars on the road course at Indy was also a good race from what little I saw of it before I went to the drum jam at church, as they would bunch up 3 and 4 wide on the oval part and have to get down to single file for the infield part of the course, which made for some very exciting racing in the turn that transitions from the oval to the infield. It almost looked like Bristol or Martinsville going into that turn with all the beating and banging and rubbing going on between cars.
I also saw the Cup qualifying session and the Nationwide Series race at Indy. The Indy guys should be looking at the performance of the Cup guys when they set their formula next time, as the Cup guys were reaching speeds near 210 MPH at the end of the straights and averaging less than 190 because they had to slow down in the turns. I like that combination for Indy Car, instead of hitting 230 at the end of the straight and averaging 225 for the lap because the scrubbing in the turn slightly slowed the cars down. I don’t mind the 230 straight speed, I would just prefer that the drivers have to lift going into the turns and use all the controls when they drive the track, instead of just putting their throttle foot down and leaving it there for the whole race. Right now the race is almost entirely on car setup and driver bravery, I want to see driver skill added back to the mix, like it was back in the roadster era, with skinny tires and no downforce. And that might need to be part of the equation when the IRL does their new car specs, smaller tires and less downforce, at least for venues like Indy and Texas.
I’m beginning to run out of things I want to talk about, and the lawn needs mowing after my absence from the house, so I think I will end this missive now. Back to the Grind tomorrow…