Nascar Racing

The Next Gen At Charlotte And The Coca Cola 600

From a NASCAR Fan’s View


The Cup teams will face off against each other at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the running of the Coca-Cola 600 and it is anyone’s guess what the end result will be. I mean, all things considered, this one is long and it is demanding on the drivers and the crews. It is also a long day of racing for fans of motorsports because it is not only the day for the Coca-Cola 600 but also the Indianapolis 500. There’s just not much time for anything else other than racing this weekend.

Of all the races we’ve had so far with the Next Gen car, this one could be more telling than all the rest. The biggest reason is because it is the longest race the NASCAR Cup teams face in any year and another reason is the problems that so many have had with the Goodyear tires, in particular, the left rear tire.

Go ahead. Flash back for just a moment to the last couple of races and you may notice a pattern. Notice I said “may notice” a pattern and didn’t make it a completely positive recognition of the not-so-obvious. What you “may have noticed,” or maybe I should have said, “should have noticed” was just how many tire problems have ended the hopes of drivers that might have been race winners. The culprit has often been the left rear tire and it has happened often enough to raise concern, at least it does in my book. Of course, Goodyear says they have thoroughly tested the tires and they have made suggestions as to what minimum and maximum tire pressures the teams should run as well as how much camber they should run in the rear tires to run safely.

In all honesty, I am concerned enough to question the patterns I have noticed. One particular item would be the number of laps they generally have been able to run before problems occur. Unfortunately, there has generally been around twenty something laps they can run until something happens. The usual problem is the sudden loss of air pressure commonly known as a flat left rear tire. Often the result has been catastrophic for one or more cars because of that problem.

Before moving on to the Coca-Cola 600, I’d just like to say one thing. I will be interested to see if the problems continue into this, the longest race of the season. There have been times, because of the tire issues, the whole complexion of the race has changed. I realize that part of that responsibility must fall on the decisions made by the crew chiefs and engineers but some of it is just one of the shortcomings of the Next Gen car.

Judging from the practice sessions and the qualifying, looks like the JGR Toyotas are definitely showing they have found the speed they were lacking earlier in the season. They have consistently been showing that speed over the last several weeks in qualifying. It hasn’t always carried over to the final laps of the race but they are much improved.

The Fords still look to be struggling a bit but they are beginning to show signs of life, especially at the end of a race. Ryan Blaney has consistently been one of the fastest Fords every weekend and he did just come off winning the million dollars of the All Star race. He has also been consistently one of the cars vying for the win at the end of a race lately. That doesn’t mean he is always the one to beat but he is often up front in the mix at the end of the race. Joey Logano is another one of the Fords doing the same thing. Overall, from this fan’s view, Fords are still looking for the speed they need to get the job done. They do seem to be steadily improving though.

Let’s see… we’ve mentioned the Toyotas and the Fords. I guess that leaves nothing but adding the Chevys to the mix.

Of all the favorites to win this weekend, Kyle Larson did put himself at a disadvantage by hitting the wall hard in the first practice session. That led to him not being able to qualify and a lot of work for the crew to do to get ready for today’s race. Last year, he pretty much dominated the 600 and did have good speed before he hit the wall. In fact, he had the fastest lap time in the first group. I know he is quite capable to drive from the rear to the front and it is a long race but, he does have his work cut out for himself in this one.

Once again, the Hendrick Chevys, in fact, most of the Chevys had good speed and I think they will make a race of it when it comes down to the final laps. That is, IF they can survive all the pitfalls that lay before the entire field with possible tire failures and the lack of stability in the Next Gen that sometimes rears its ugly head at the most inopportune times…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 29, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.