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Car of tomorrow is the big unknown

January 28, 2007|From the Associated Press

Although there are far more changes coming in NASCAR's top series in 2007 than in most seasons, the one that has everybody guessing the most is the introduction of the Car of Tomorrow.

Ask any of the usual championship contenders how confident they are about being in the thick of the title battle during the upcoming season and, invariably, they say something like: "Well, that's going to depend on just how good we are with that Car of Tomorrow."

The new car -- intended by NASCAR to be safer, more racy, easier to pass through technical inspections and, eventually, more affordable -- will be phased in over three seasons, with the first 16 races part of this year's 36-race schedule.

"The big unknown for all of us right now is the Car of Tomorrow," said Roush Racing's Greg Biffle. "We're going to run it 16 races and I can't tell you whether I'm going to run 40th or just kick their butts. I don't have any idea.

"I don't even have a guess. I could get a coin out of my pocket and flip it, because that's seriously how unknown that area is for us right now. But it's like that for a lot of teams. Some teams feel good about it and some are really worried."

Two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart is one of several drivers who have been openly critical of the new cars. On his radio show Tuesday on the Sirius Satellite Network, Stewart said he finally drove one of the COTs at Lakeland, Fla., and was far from impressed.

"Oh, what a basket of junk," Stewart said.

"It drives like a station wagon, an old station wagon, like an old Oldsmobile station wagon, green with wood panel trim on the sides," he added. "Granted, I know we were on harder tires than what they would run there but, boy, it didn't feel good.

NASCAR currently is certifying the chassis for the new cars and many Cup teams haven't even started to put the bodies on most of their COTs. That means there are still plenty of unknowns remaining.

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