Car of Tomorrow, lost yesterday

Car of Tomorrow, lost yesterday

Car of Tomorrow, lost yesterday

Jack Roush did not get to his current position by ignoring the obvious. So it's hard to understand why the veteran car owner was so openly critical recently when discussing the issue of testing with the Car of Tomorrow, which NASCAR now says will be implemented full time for the 2008 season.

Roush's five-car organization has been the only Ford outfit to go toe-to-toe with Chevrolet kingpins Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing over the past seven years. But Roush says those teams -- as well as Richard Childress Racing -- have used extensive testing at nonsanctioned tracks to gain an advantage in competing with the newer, safer car. And that, he says, is wrong.

NASCAR has limited testing at tracks that host Cup events for the past several years. But NASCAR does not limit testing at tracks that do not host Cup races. As a result, a number of smaller venues are being used on an almost weekly basis as teams try to gain an advantage with the COT.

At JGR, developmental drivers helped test the new COT. Hendrick Motorsports went as far as to field a dedicated test team to work out the initial bugs with its car. And it's no surprise that Hendrick drivers -- Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch -- have won the first five COT races.

Roush contends that the testing limits, as well as a tire-leasing program that prevents teams from obtaining current model tires from Goodyear, were meant as a way to level the playing field as the new car was introduced. But by going around those limits, he says teams have violated the spirit of the rules.

"NASCAR was going to stop us from taking tires home because they did not want us to test these cars," Roush says. "They were going to start everybody on the Car of Tomorrow on an even basis, saying there's four or five tests -- whatever it was -- that's what you get.

"Well, the teams that have been successful, and I'll name names -- the Hendrick organization, the Gibbs organization and the Childress organization -- have been testing these cars multiple times a week on racetracks that were outside of NASCAR's control with tires that were not Goodyears, for the most part, because they won't sell the tires. . . . The teams were out going around NASCAR's policy and their intention by buying other people's tires and going to racetracks."

Of course, Roush is right. That is exactly what happened. But any organization with the resources and the financial wherewithal should have done the same thing. The Hendrick team didn't try to hide the fact it was testing extensively with the new car. Nor did Joe Gibbs Racing. The majority of teams spent tremendous amounts of money on testing at tracks outside NASCAR's jurisdiction before the arrival of the Car of Tomorrow. Is it any wonder they continued that program as the new car was worked into the schedule?

And if such testing is wrong? Well, better to be wrong and competitive than right and trying to catch up. Roush says he has now decided to go headfirst into the testing game, which includes hiring additional employees and dedicating the necessary equipment.

"If you don't want us to test, then you need to have us sign something in the application that says, 'We agreed that we would not test our cars with Goodyear tires or anybody else's tires, except for at the racetracks that NASCAR approved,'" Roush says. "NASCAR didn't do that. They left the door open and we got behind, but we're going to catch up."

That said, Roush's predicament is no one's fault but his own -- not the other owners' and not NASCAR's. His criticisms only make his organization's failure to thoroughly do its job more obvious.

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Re: Car of Tomorrow, lost yesterday

I am getting sick and tired of the Hendrick cars dominating these COT races.  :x

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