Danica Patrick stunned fans and foes alike with a stellar run at the Daytona 500. But the past week has not been kind to the still up-and-coming racer as she suffered a duo of crashes, the most recent at Talladega caused by her own teammate, Kyle Larson.
Before her near race-ending wreck at Talladega, Patrick spun-out in Phoenix, crashing into the wall and popping the hood on her racer.
It’s still early enough in the season for Patrick to make a comeback, but so far luck just hasn’t been with her after Daytona.
The next generation of NASCAR automobile is proving to be troublesome for drivers, after more than a third of the vehicles testing them in Daytona last week wrecked. That’s 12 of 35 cars on the track, smashed, bashed and crashed, sending all but one team back home to rebuild.
Some in the racing industry are already saying the new generation of NASCAR racer is more unstable than any previous version and not worth the effort teams are having to put in to get them ready to race. But not everybody is taking their toys and going home unhappy. Two dozen teams remain unscathed and continue to test in Daytona, learning to handle the new model race car; understanding its wants and needs when it comes to handling and performance.
Despite the wreck in Daytona and the grumbles from some team owners NASCAR has shown no interest in backing away from the Gen 6 vehicle. They say the new cars are safer, higher performing and will provide better racing action for the fans. After all, NASCAR is all about pleasing the fans, not the team owners or the drivers. If the fans don’t show up it doesn’t matter how great the cars are or whether or not they perform as promised.
When it comes to the next generation NASCAR racing vehicle ultimately it will be the fans who decide if it was a good move or not. If the fans liked the days when the drivers had more control of how well (or not) their cars performed on the track, then it seems likely they will be pleased. If the new cars suffer from too much trick and not enough track time for their favorite teams and drivers NASCAR might just have a problem on its hands–and Gen 7 cars will be right around the corner.