NASCAR's new aero package eliminating competition

When NASCAR bosses made the decision after last season to make some adjustments in both the horsepower and aero package on its Generation Six Sprint Cup cars it was hoped it would create better and safer racing.

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Although it has only been two races since those changes fully came into effect, it is obvious that there still is a ways to go.

Certainly Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet team were full value for their win in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, but there wasn't much of a fight from the race cars behind him.

He dominated the race just like Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet did the week before -- also with the new package -- at Atlanta.

There is some more adjusting to do and NASCAR has said there will be even more changes come 2016 -- maybe even before then -- to make for more passing.

That would suit a lot of drivers just fine as long as it doesn't rob them of speed.

Carl Edwards, for example, said at Las Vegas if NASCAR wants better, more close-quarter racing -- and he believes everyone in the sport does -- the answer is not less horsepower, but less downforce.

Edwards said that having both less power and less downforce won't make races better.

"I believe that I'm on the same page with everyone -- NASCAR, the drivers, the fans -- we all want to see the best racing on the race track," he said. "The question is how exactly do we get that."

Edwards is hoping that NASCAR senior vice president for innovation and racing development Gene Stefanyshyn -- an Oshawa native -- who is in charge of making changes to the aero/horsepower package for the Generation Six car will make less downforce a priority.

"The way I understand it, Gene Stefanyshyn and everyone at NASCAR is going through the process of trying to remove a little bit of downforce and to make the cars race better," Edwards said. "I'm hoping that there's more of that in the future, because what's happening is, as you remove horsepower, there's just less time off the throttle and eventually if you keep taking more horsepower away and the teams keep finding more and more downforce, it will be impossible to pass."

Meanwhile, if NASCAR is looking to have better competition, there are those in the garage area who look at Sunday's results and wonder how the Chevrolet teams appear to have a marked advantage so far this season.

A Bow Tie team has won two of the three Cup races so far this season and finished 1-2-3-4 at Las Vegas.

In fact, the final leader board had six Chevrolets in the top-eight finishers with only Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in fifth and Brad Keselowski in seventh in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford preventing a sweep.

FINISH LINES

The difference between a 500-mile Sprint Cup race and one of 400 miles was there for all to see on Sunday. Last week's Fields of Honor Quick Trip 500 at Atlanta took 3 hours, 49 minutes to complete. At Las Vegas the Kobalt 400 took just 2 hours, 47 minutes ... The problems in the Roush Fenway Racing Sprint Cup team are well-documented, but there is a ray of hope in the Xfinity program where youngsters Darrell Wallace Jr., Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed are in the top five in championship points after Las Vegas. The issue is where to put them if they continue their climb up the stock car racing ladder. RFR Cup drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne must be looking over their shoulders ... Formula 1 Ferrari racing boss Maurizio Arrivabene told AUTOSPORT.com on Sunday that Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen may be the perfect pair to take the Italian super team back to the top of the podium. "We have the perfect combination," Arrivabene said ... There has to be concern at Stewart Haas Racing at the performance of boss man Tony Stewart and the No. 14 Chevrolet car. Stewart was 33rd in Sunday's Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas, following finishes of 42nd at Daytona and 30th at Atlanta. Is it too soon to suggest that at 43 years old, Stewart's career is arching downwards?


NUTS AND BOLTS

NASCAR SPRINT CUP

Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick was in control practically the whole race on Sunday, claiming the win in the No. 4 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

It was Harvick's third win in the past six Sprint Cup races going back to last season.

Harvick led a race high 142 laps and beat second place finisher Martin Truex Jr. to the line by almost two seconds.

Truex, in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, settled for second with Ryan Newman coming home third in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fourth in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with Denny Hamlin fifth in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota preventing a Chevrolet sweep.

NASCAR XFINITY

Austin Dillon had the best and fastest car almost all day in Saturday's Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but a charging Ryan Blaney made it a race in the final laps only to come up six tenths of a seconds short.

Dillon led 183 of the 200 laps in the No. 33 Chevrolet to take the win with Blaney second in the No. 22 Ford and Regan Smith, third in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

Denny Hamlin was fourth in the No. 54 Toyota with Chase Elliott rounding out the top five in the No. 9 Chevrolet."?



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