Gen-6 car more competitive so far

Through nine races, the on-track action with the Gen-6 is much improved from a year ago, when fans were screaming about how boring NASCAR had become. The races haven't been perfect, but there's been no shortage of story lines and few runaway wins. "I'm telling you, whoever designed this new car, we should kiss `em every weekend. It's creating drama," Clint Bowyer said after Saturday night's race at Richmond.

"We haven't seen racing like this in years, since I first started in this sport (in 2004). When you can leave a race track and there's people in tears because they won, and in tears because they got crashed, that's what brings us to the race track, that kind of racing and determination and passion."

The idea behind the Gen-6 was to improve the racing on intermediate tracks, where it was unwatchable at times last year. The problems were never more glaring than Memorial Day weekend, when just hours after one of the most exciting Indianapolis 500's in history, NASCAR staged a nearly four-hour snoozefest at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Only nine cars were on the lead lap of the Coca-Cola 600 when Kasey Kahne beat Denny Hamlin to the finish line by a whopping 4.295 seconds. The racing hasn't been so monotonous this year and the statistics back it up after nine races:
– There have been 1,203 more green flag passes throughout the field.
– The average margin of victory is .634 seconds, compared to 1.759 seconds last year.
– There are 49.9 percent of the cars finishing on the lead lap this year, up from 38.2 last year.
– The percentage of cars running at the finish of the race is up 3 percent to 83.2.

The next test is Talladega, where everyone is waiting to see how the car performs. The two-car tandem racing of the last several years was widely panned by fans, and NASCAR eliminated it last year with changes to the rules package. But the result was a wreckfest last May in which Stewart shredded the product in post-race and suggested a radical tongue-in-cheek change to the racing, making the track "a figure 8. And/or we can stop at halfway, make a break, and turn around and go backwards the rest of the way. Then with 10 to go, we split the field in half and half go the regular direction and half of them go backwards." Associated Press

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