A daylong rainstorm kept NASCAR’s teams mostly confined to their garages Friday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Several drivers felt the rain was also the only thing protecting the track’s speed record from the new Gen-6 race car.
Although Denny Hamlin’s criticism of the new car drew heavy attention and a $25,000 fine from NASCAR this week, most drivers think it’s too early to make any judgment about their speedy new rides. In fact, this weekend is the Gen-6’s first real chance to show what it’s got — and the drivers are eager to get rolling.
“I think as we learn more and more about these cars and what makes them work and drive better, things can only get better as far as the product we put out there every week,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said.
While Hamlin correctly pointed out how many adjustments still must be made to the car, many more drivers seem intrigued by the possibilities and potential in their eye-catching new vehicles. What’s more, NASCAR and its three manufacturers built the new car largely to improve racing on 1.5-mile intermediate tracks like the tri-oval in Vegas, where Brad Keselowski will start from the pole on Sunday.
The first race in the Gen-6 was with restrictor plates at Daytona, a high-banked, 2.5-mile track. Its second outing was at Phoenix on a fairly flat, 1-mile track with few of the challenges drivers will face elsewhere. While Phoenix featured little passing or side-by-side racing, most drivers seem to think the quality of racing will improve on the intermediate tracks that make up most of their schedule.
“For a new car, I thought last week was a really good debut for it,” Tony Stewart said. “I personally think it’s off to a great start, and it’s got a lot of potential. We had good racing, we had a good finish, and everybody is going to keep learning. Everybody has their piece of the equation that they will figure out. You have to start somewhere, and for it to debut the way that it has, I think, has been a very positive start.”
Brad Keselowski will start on the pole after heavy rain forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying for Sunday’s race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The track got steady rain all morning Friday and again in the early afternoon after a brief break, forcing NASCAR to scrap practice and qualifying in Las Vegas for the first time. The speedway urged fans to take cover from rain, high wind and lightning when the afternoon storm broke over the desert north of the Strip.