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Is This The Best Superspeedway Product We Have Ever Seen?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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Talladega produced arguably one of the most competitive races in NASCAR history on Sunday as there were 70 lead changes, the most in a race at the track since 2011. It opens up an argument about the Next-Gen superspeedway product and whether or not it is the best product in NASCAR history?

Looking at Lead Changes

Ever since the Next-Gen car came into existence, lead changes have generally gone up at superspeedways, particularly at Talladega. We will not include Atlanta in this comparison because there was no Atlanta race in the current configuration.

The last three races at Talladega have had no less than 57 lead changes, and the Daytona 500 earlier this year had 52 lead changes. In the Gen-6 era, only two races at Talladega during that entire time frame of nine seasons had 57 or more lead changes.

However, are lead changes the best metric to judge how good a race is? Taking a look at this list of every race that has 70 or more lead changes, three of these seven races are from the year 2011.

The 2011 superspeedway package was famous for tandem drafting. Tandem drafting was not well received by the fanbase because of how it broke up the large packs of cars that people came to Talladega and Daytona to see.

So, just because there are a lot of swaps for the lead, does not mean that a race was good. It’s also worth noting that the Next-Gen races at Talladega in particular have not done particularly well in Jeff Gluck’s “Was it a good race?” poll.

So, despite the lead changes, the Next-Gen superspeedway product has not been received quite as well as some may think. However, there has been a lot of action up front.

Looking at the Drafting with the Next-Gen Car

The Next-Gen car drafts significantly differently from the way the Gen-6 car did. The Gen-6 car had a massive closing rate which meant that you could go from the back to the front very quickly. However, that quick closing rate had a couple of consequences.

First off, it caused drivers to be very patient early on in the race. Oftentimes, drivers would choose to “Train” around the top of the race track in a single file line just to log laps for a period of time. It also meant that races could often devolve into wreckfests at the end because drivers would make ridiculously aggressive moves and blocks at the end of races.

Now, the Next-Gen car is not completely immune to this, but, it does draft much differently from the old car. Many times, drivers have a hard time working their way working their way to the front.

People do not often like this type of racing because there is little movement throughout the field. Everyone is just stuck in the middle of the pack. Eric Micke discussed this on Twitter in response to Jeff Gluck.

So, it seems that this Next-Gen plate package is not perfect according to what some fans are saying. Not everyone likes what they are seeing on track regardless of how many lead changes or on-track passes there are. Of course, you cannot please everybody.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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