NASCAR Fails with COT: Just Treading Water for Last 5 Years

Brandon CaldwellCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2011

COT during testing
COT during testingRusty Jarrett/Getty Images

I remember being in high school in 2006. I had my issue of NASCAR Scene magazine. I read about how NASCAR was developing a new car that would be used in select races in 2007 and '08 and full time in 2009.

I saw a picture of it. I didn't like the design, but as I read I became favorable of it.

I read that it was going to do three major things for NASCAR teams. 1) Cut costs. 2) Make the racing better, and 3) Make the racing safer.

It was no secret that the costs of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing were getting out of hand. The once prominent teams of Robert Yates Racing, Petty Enterprises, Wood Brothers Racing and Morgan-McClure Motorsports were struggling to find sponsorship and stay afloat. So I figured the biggest issue of this was to cut costs. I figured that cutting costs would make the racing and competition better.

The racing itself was not bad. This was the same car that they used when NASCAR was the fastest growing spectator sport, so I didn't see that as an issue. 

And the safety factor. Safety is VERY important in this sport. At the time I was getting frustrated because by trying to get safer, NASCAR had hurt the competition of the sport, which is why some people thought that it was the car.

NASCAR was fining drivers for touching other drivers cars. An important factor that had separated NASCAR racing from other auto racing series.

BRISTOL, TN - FEBRUARY 28:  Brian Vickers, driver of the #83 Red Bull Toyota drives, during NASCAR Car of Tomorrow testing under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway on Febuary 28, 2007 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASC
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

But with the "have at it boys" mentality, NASCAR got back to their old ways and just made the car safer.

And they accomplished that goal. We've seen plenty of hard crashes that were scary, and drivers were able to walk away. So I give them credit; they accomplished that feat. 

But let's go back to the other two points NASCAR was trying to fix.

Cut costs: They had stated numerous times that they want this car to fit under the same rule package at ALL tracks. After the teams had bit the bullet on building the new cars, it looked like NASCAR had accomplished that goal.

But then, of course, things started to change. In one pre-race show on FOX they did an insider story at Penske Racing. Kurt Busch was walking the audience through the shop at Penske Racing. The camera panned down to the Sprint Cup cars, and Busch had indicated that those cars were short track cars, because of the vents to cool the brakes. Right there I figured that at least the bigger teams were making cars for different types of tracks.

But nothing is more evident than the new rule changes for the 2012 Daytona 500. There are SIX major rule changes for teams. One is a smaller restrictor plate, which is issued by NASCAR—no big deal.

But the other five are changes that affect the costs for teams. The first one is a smaller radiator. So for the four superspeedway races, the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have to buy new radiators, and move the old ones out of the cars that they use.

Second is a smaller overflow tank. Again, four races and a different piece to buy.

Third, the radiator inlet is moving closer to the front center of the bumper. So teams have to dissemble the front end, and move the radiator inlet for just four races. With that hassle, why don't teams just build separate cars for superspeedways? My point exactly.

Fourth, they're going to run softer springs. Again, if they need to adjust the springs or even buy different ones, that's an extra cost.

And fifth is a smaller rear spoiler. They've allowed testing for all of these changes, but didn't they cut testing to cut costs? They did. And now they've got to test for all of these rule changes.

So in five years NASCAR hasn't really accomplished the goal of cutting the costs. We're pretty much back to where we were five years ago.

Now to the third issue NASCAR was trying to fix: make the racing better.

Have they really? When the car hit the track, it was pretty evident that the lead car would punch a bigger hole in the air and take a big lead, to the point where no one could catch them.

So what does NASCAR do? They changed the rule. They changed the rule to shield the problem of not accomplishing this goal. They made the double file restart rule, which in turn made the new wave around rule.

NASCAR and the media members like to say that the racing is better because of the number of cars on the lead lap. But if they throw "competition" yellows and that puts into place the wave around rule, then is that really making the racing better? No not at all. That's the answer.

So here we are, five years later. What has NASCAR accomplished with the new car? They've made the racing safer and that's it! And guess what people, they're designing a new car for 2013. This is crazy.

And how John Darby, Robin Pemberton and the others who "designed" and engineered this car still have jobs is disgraceful. They didn't do their job. They at least shouldn't be designing the new one. And the fact that Brian France has not come out and admitted they failed is more reason for fans to be upset.

NASCAR failed on the first COT and the team owners—not the Hendricks, the Roushes, the Gibbs, the Childresses and the Penskes—aren't the ones that are paying the price. It's the smaller teams struggling to get by. And that's who this car was supposed to help.

This is an issue that has been untouched, but once again race fans, NASCAR has let you down. As always, it's not them who's paying the price.