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.
Through all this maturation of product, the drivers remain resolute in being critical.
There's a good reason for this.
"If you (driver) don't have something to grumble about," said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager, "then you have to point the finger back at you."
For every time a driver accepts full blame and responsibility for an accident, there are 10 other times the car failed or the bull-headed pinhead next to me took me out or my team is underfunded or how can I be expected to drive well under these conditions (pick a condition, any condition).
"It's man versus machine," said Ambrose, when asked why drivers are so cranky and hard to satisfy.
Yes, it's quite comfortable blaming a chunk of metal that can't talk back.
"It's the nature of racing," Ambrose said.
It's the driver racing against other drivers, track conditions, his own car, his own crew and an owner watching his pennies.
That's a lot of competition entering the driver's cockpit. That's a lot of edginess just turning on the key. Into this mishmash of metal, attitude and human error is the Gen-6.
"Whoever designed this new car," Clint Bowyer told the Associated Press after racing at Richmond, "we should kiss 'em every weekend."
Through the first nine races of the season 1,203 more green flag passes have been raised. The average margin of victory is .634 seconds, compared to 1.759 seconds in 2012.