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September 15, 2014

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I hate clean air

Drivers love clean air.

I don’t.

I think it makes races less competitive.

If a driver can get his car to the front of the field where clean air creates downforce and gives the car grip, then he is a happy camper. If he’s stuck in traffic and he’s surrounded by turbulent air that’s churned up by the cars in front of him, then he’s not getting the same amount of grip he would get if he were running in the front.

So clean air is good for the drivers. But is it good for the racing?

There was a period during the Michigan race where Denny Hamlin had a 10- second lead over the second-place car. Kurt Busch also had a sizable lead during the laps he led. As we have seen at the cookie-cutter tracks where aerodynamics play a large roll, a car that gets to the front can take advantage of the clean air to gain a large lead. So large, in fact, that the leader often seems to be in a different zip code.

Final laps at Michigan

Hamlin obviously had the best car in the field on Sunday, but I wonder if the race would have been a little more competitive if these cars didn’t get so much additional downforce by running in the clean air? It’s unfortunate when, in the final laps of the race, the TV network focuses more on the good racing in the mid-pack traffic instead of the action at the front of the field.

So what’s the solution? Square off the front of the cars? I’m not knowledgeable enough to answer that question, but it seems logical to suggest that with all of the technological know-how in this sport that there must be a way to decrease some of the huge advantage that unmolested air gives to the nose of a Cup car.

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