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PADECKY: Drivers like NASCAR's new model

SONOMA

To get a NASCAR driver's attention, agree with him. Throws 'em off every time. The sport is built on conflict and disagreement.

That NASCAR officials can even make these guys drive in the same direction feels like an accomplishment. Which is why this Gen-6 thing is so baffling.

Gen-6 reads like an energy supplement but it's not. It's not a herbal laxative or lawn fertilizer. Gen-6 reads ordinary, unexceptional, forgettable.

You wish NASCAR would have labeled its latest racing vehicle something a bit more catchy, like Seat Belt Scream. Or Thrill Chill. Or Whoa Daddy. Something, anything, to place Gen-6 in its unique, proper perspective.

"It's been a smooth transition," driver Marcos Ambrose said on Tuesday. "It's been a good step in the right direction."

In NASCAR terms, Ambrose just gave the Gen-6 a standing ovation. Ambrose, along with teammate Aric Almirola, were testing the Gen-6 at Sonoma Raceway. The Gen-6 is the sixth generation NASCAR prototype which replaces the Car of Tomorrow that didn't make it to today. Almost universally, the drivers have praised the machine. It's lighter, handles better and is safer.

It's not the COT (2006-12) which Tony Stewart called "the flying brick." It wasn't the Gen-4 car (1992-2006), as sensitive to touch as crystal. It wasn't the Gen-3 car (1981-91), a missile with wheels. It wasn't Gen-2 (1967-80) which, to date, represents the good ol' days when cars weren't death traps and looked like showroom models.

And it certainly wasn't the Gen-1 car (1948-66) when the cars were death traps and races weren't competitive.

Like your friendly neighbor down the street who tinkers with his car at midnight, NASCAR has spent all its adult life tinkering with its cars, finding ways to make its vehicles safer, fast but not too fast and nimble to be driven, not just steered.


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