Predicting Which NASCAR Drivers Will Master Gen-6 Car First

Michael Guadalupe@The_GuadaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2013

Predicting Which NASCAR Drivers Will Master Gen-6 Car First

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    The new Gen-6 car set to debut this season has been the talk of NASCAR since the sport entered the offseason.

    The Gen-6 looks ready to shake up the sport of stock car racing, and hopefully, will deliver a car that can increase competition in the sport.

    Some drivers have already stated their excitement for the car and feel the Gen-6 is full of promises. Which drivers will be the ones to master the Gen-6 first, though?

    When the 2007 Car of Tomorrow debuted, Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson seemed to be the ones who mastered the car first.

    Will the same thing happen with the Gen-6 car as well?

    The Gen-6 still has a lot to prove, but it will hopefully push NASCAR in the right direction. These six drivers will be the first to master the new car this season.

6. Kyle Busch

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    Kyle Busch wasn't a fan of the Car of Tomorrow.

    "It had this stupid splitter on it with splitter braces; it had this dumb wing on it. I mean it was just horrible looking," Busch was quoted as saying by Kenny Bruce over at

    “It drove horrendously. You couldn’t race it; you couldn’t get within 100 yards of one another.”

    Even though Busch wasn't a fan of the CoT, he still remained one of NASCAR's top drivers. Now, with the Gen-6 right around the corner, Busch seems likely to master the car earlier than his fellow drivers.

    "This new car, I love it,” Busch said. "I think it looks awesome. It looks like a street car, which is great."

    Looks aside, Busch is clearly optimistic about the Gen-6 car. 

    And after being one of the top drivers while racing in a car he clearly disliked, imagine how strong Busch will look this season behind the wheel of something he loves.

5. Tony Stewart

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    When Tony Stewart came over from Indy cars, he picked up stock car racing quickly—and turned out to be one of the best drivers NASCAR has seen in recent years.

    Jumping from Indy cars to stock cars isn't easy, and Stewart has been the most successful Indy-to-stock car driver in NASCAR history.

    The jump to Gen-6 should be easy for Smoke then.

    Stewart is looking at the Gen-6 in a different way than the other drivers on this list.  As part owner of Stewart-Haas racing, Smoke is looking more at the cost than others drivers seem to be.

    "There's a lot of added cost, a lot of parts that are a lot more expensive than in the past," Stewart was quoted as saying by Marty Smith of ESPN. "But racers are very resourceful. These teams will find a way to make it work."

    Smoke wasn't all business when he was discussing the Gen-6 car, though.

    "If these cars race as good as they drive, it's going to be an awesome year," he continued.

    Tony adjusts well to new cars, and his mastery over the Gen-6 will come faster to Smoke than other drivers.

4. Dale Jr.

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    Dale Jr. was one of the first drivers to speak out about the new Gen-6 car. He praised the car highly and continues to think the Gen-6 is a big step forward in NASCAR.

    "This sport is going to be revolutionized again with this car," Dale Earnhardt Jr. was quoted as saying over at Sports Illustrated.

    Continuing, he said:

    I think the car has really awesome potential, and I like it already leaps and bounds beyond the CoT. This car really gives me a lot of sensations that are similar to the old car that we ran 10 years ago. The CoT was just frustrating for me. I had good runs and good races in it and I had races where the car drove well, but I never really connected with that car from the very beginning. Just personally, I didn't really like the car for what it was.

    Like Kyle Busch, Dale Jr. wasn't exactly happy with the CoT. Along with teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, though, Dale will have Hendrick technology behind him—which could turn into a big advantage when trying to mastering the Gen-6 car.

    Dale Jr. has a lot of confidence in the Gen-6 car. That might be all the driver needs to get a mastery over the new model before other drivers can.

3. Jeff Gordon

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    Don't be surprised if most of the Hendrick Motorsport drivers do well this season. Hendrick Motorsports seems to be on top with new technology, and the Gen-6 could give the racing organization a huge advantage.

    Jeff Gordon is one Hendrick driver who will master the Gen-6 car first.

    Gordon praised the car (h/t Reid Spencer, Yahoo! Sports):

    Now I look at this (Gen-6) race car and see where we're starting out with this car -- and it feels good. It drives good, it's forgiving, it's got a great aerodynamic balance...So far, I'm a big fan. I love it. I like what's happening underneath the car. I like the body style.

    Even though Gordon is clearly a fan of the Gen-6 model, that doesn't necessarily mean the new car will work well for him next season.

    Still, with his experience—and Hendrick power behind him—Gordon might master the Gen-6 quicker than others.

2. Brad Keselowski

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    Brad Keselowski isn't fully sold on the idea of the Gen-6 car.

    His level-headed approach might be all the driver needs to gain a mastery over the new model before others do.

    While some other top drivers feel like the Gen-6 is going to change the sport of stock car racing for the better, Keselowski knows the car still has a lot to prove.

    "I think it has tremendous opportunity to make a major mark on our sport in a positive direction," he was quoted as saying by Jeff Gluck via USA Today. "I think it's naive to think it'll be the end-all, be-all, cure-all of all that ails American motorsports."

    Brad knows to be patient with the Gen-6 and wait until the new car has had a real chance to show what it can do for the sport.

    While other drivers seem to be jumping the gun and already praising the Gen-6, Keselowski is waiting to see how the new model of car handles when the season starts. His mindset will be what helps him master the Gen-6 before other drivers.

1. Jimmie Johnson

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    If one Hendrick driver has a chance to master the Gen-6 car before the rest, look no further than Jimmie Johnson.

    Johnson after all, mastered the 2007 Car of Tomorrow before anyone else could, and along with Hendrick technology, he was able to win five consecutive championships.

    Johnson was quoted by Bob Pockrass of Sporting News:

    It's NASCAR's intent to give us a car more stable aerodynamically to create more side-by-side racing to give us an opportunity to be more aggressive on restarts. If you have more downforce, you might be more willing to force your way into a situation side by side with someone. The car is very comfortable with all the downforce. Speeds are up.

    Johnson has also gone to Twitter and used words like "promising" to describe how he feels about the Gen-6.

    Jimmie Johnson seems to adapt well. Expect him to be one of the first drivers to master the Gen-6 car.