The biggest race in NASCAR, the Daytona 500, is going to be a testing ground for the Generation 6 cars.
Drivers are getting their first taste of racing in the new cars at Daytona, and this alone is going to create some unique circumstances. Then, of course, the cars themselves are going to create a vastly different style than we are used to.
Here are three things to keep an eye out for.
The Return of Pack Racing
The main reason the Gen-6 cars are here in the first place is because of the tandem racing that had taken over superspeedways.
The tandem style was a complete bore and not in the spirit of NASCAR. The Gen-6 cars will bring us back to a much more enjoyable style of racing.
These cars do not handle nearly as well in the draft. That takes away the bump drafting that allowed the tandem racing to be effective.
This is going to lead us back to the cars flowing around the track in big packs, and all of this leads us to our next item.
The Big One
So, let me get this straight: These cars don't handle as well in drafts and they will be racing more closely together? That could get interesting.
To get a feel for what the drivers are dealing with, check out this quote, provided by USA Today's Jeff Gluck, from Ryan Newman after he lost control and wrecked Mark Martin and Carl Edwards in a Wednesday practice session:
I hadn't been loose the entire time. It was just something new and a different characteristic of this car, I guess... There are are a lot of things to think about and talk about.
In the enormous intensity of this 500 mile race, there is no way this one will complete without finding at least one big wreck.
The Adjustment Period
It's not just the drivers that have to get used to the new cars, but entire teams. The unfamiliarity is going to make it more difficult for teams to make adjustments to the car. It will be a bit of trial and error.
The same can be said for on-track calculations like fuel. Teams have to account for a bigger margin of error when projecting how far they can get on a tank of gas.
Then there is the adjustments the drivers have to make. They'll be learning on the fly when is the best time to make a move, a pass or just stay in the draft.
All of this sets the stage for what should be a thrilling race.