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NASCAR gives Cup teams Thursday test session to work on Gen 6 cars
NASCAR is giving Sprint Cup teams a rare pre-weekend test on Thursday so teams can continue to work on their pesky new Gen 6 cars.

The day-long test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway precedes Friday and Saturday activities that lead to Sunday afternoon’s Kobalt Tools 400, the first of 12 races this year on 1.5-mile tracks.

So far -- and this cannot be argued -- the highly touted Gen 6 car hasn’t produced the competitive side-by-side racing NASCAR expected or predicted. The organization spent much of last year and all of the off-season saying how the new car would make fans forget the dreaded Car of Tomorrow that debuted in March of 2007 as a handful and quietly went away after last year’s finale at Homestead.

Understandably, the Gen 6 wasn’t any better than the COT in last month’s season-opening Daytona 500. The 500 is almost a one-off, with different qualifying procedures, a restrictor plate that impacts strategy and an aerodynamic rules package unique to Daytona International Speedway. But the new car wasn’t any better last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, a mostly-flat 1-mile track where handling means more than horsepower.

After the race at Phoenix, third-place finisher Denny Hamlin (he started at the rear) continued to pile on the Gen 6 car.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement for this car,” Hamlin said. “Obviously, we saw a great finish. But it’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna take a little while for us to get these cars driving as good as we had with the Generation 5.”

Defending series champion Brad Keselowski took the “good news, bad news” angle. “I think that by themselves, these cars probably drive better than any race car I’ve ever driven in my life,” Keselowski said after finishing fourth at Phoenix. “And they’re probably the hardest of any car to drive in traffic.” AutoWeek

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