I’ve noticed—or maybe I’m just imagining it; how about you?—that Fox has changed its camera positions at the end of the backstretch at each track this year, deeper into the third turn. How come? If I’m right, the answer’s simple.
Crab-crawling Cup cars.
Think back to the years before the CoToday. I had a 3rd-turn seat for a show at Michigan some years back and noticed the camera location allowed a perfect view of the field coming at us. We’ve all gotten accustomed to that view by now, and I’ve always liked it—down low, so there’s a true you-are-there feeling to it, like the view behind the batter’s box. But now, while Fox still endeavors to give us that sense, these cars just aren’t cooperating.
As we know, these cars don’t track straight; crew chiefs have discovered that the new chassis geometry makes for a terrible push otherwise. OK. I’m all for adjustable race cars; I don’t necessarily need to see all the drivers crawl out of their cars looking like Cale Yarborough after the World 600, exhausted and spent. But I would very much like to see these cars travel down a straight stretch of road like the car in our driveway, because as I watch final practice from Atlanta, it very simply doesn’t look right. The great Ken Squier fist coined the term “crab-crawling” to describe wrecked cars heading down pit road for what would usually be the final time that day. I don’t use it now as a compliment, because the current cars are just ugly. Ugly sitting still, uglier in motion.
Caveat: With that said, the safety modifications on the current car has been a long time coming; expanding the greenhouse was necessary, for example. I’m still no fan of the splitter or the wing. BTW, I’m not ragging on the wing for nostalgic reasons; Dick Trickle’s world-beating LM Mustang ‘way back when sported a wing, then stock, so we have a historical basis for it. The CoT wing obscures the vision of drivers following, meaning everyone’s relying even more on spotters. Of course, the head-and-neck restraints also foul up a driver’s ability to make the kinds of instant choices one would expect them to be able to make, leading to further complaints about the current era of “slot-car racing.” So there you are.
The CoT is finally a box. Boxes can be re-designed, tweaked. NASCAR’s had a couple of seasons now to tweak this particular box. I’ve a suggestion: There are some engineering geniuses out there who’d love a chance to submit changes. NASCAR shouldn’t restrict itself to its own R & D team when there are so many potential options.