The Good, Bad & Ugly Of Charlotte’s First Weekend; Harvick Tops On NASCAR’s All Star Night

Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – CONCORD, NC – After a wild new aero package was revealed, many in the NASCAR world were skeptical as to whether or not the restrictor plates, air intakes and big spoilers would amount to great racing or just a slower parade of cars. Let’s look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of NASCAR’s All Star race and find out.

The Good

There were many positives on Saturday Night, possibly too many to list but here are some worth mentioning:

1.) The on-track racing was very intriguing. Almost mimicking a bye-gone era, cars set up slingshot drafting passes and the leader did not have a distinct advantage. (unless that leader was Kevin Harvick, more on that later)

2.) The format for an All Star race needs to garner excitement. This seems to do the trick very well. A final 10 green flag lap sprint is exactly the right length of time to determine a winner for this race. With everyone driving guts out, the tires are shot by the tenth lap and the person out front in clean air would have the race pretty much wrapped up by that point.

3.) The All Star Open preliminary event allowed a few young up and coming stars to grab a spot in the big All Star race, giving them more notoriety and more media coverage. Which should be the goal of that race. It also provided some amazing racing from the likes of A.J. Allmendinger and many others as they battled to gain entry to the Million Dollar dance later on in the evening.

The Bad

Kevin Harvick’s dominance is literally surpassing the bounds of even a drastic aerodynamic change by NASCAR and now it’s getting a bit scary. The No 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team has found something fundamental to making the Gen 6 car work in a way few other teams can’t find, let alone consistently apply to their cars. NASCAR’s R&D center might want to tear his next winning car down a little more intensely and take a closer look at what this team is doing.

In no way is that saying they are cheating. In fact they may very well be doing something fully legal in the rule books that no one else has noticed. racing is strange in that way sometimes. For the betterment of the sport however, it may be necessary for NASCAR to find out just what that variable is. Kevin himself may be doing a lot behind the wheel but that car is doing things no other car on the race track is even capable of some weeks.

The Ugly

I am all for the racing we had Saturday night at Charlotte. I am not however, for the way these cars looked. They were goofy. Let’s face it. If NASCAR wants to implement a version of this package, let’s all hope they take the IndyCar approach and make sure to make the looks of the car as important as the way it drives.

The 2018 Dallara IndyCar for example shifted the majority of downforce creating designs to the underside of the vehicle to create less turbulent air. In doing so they created a car that brought back the look and feel of an early 90’s CART open wheeled machine.

NASCAR taking a similar mindset and figuring out where to create the downforce in the proper places while creating a car that appeals to the hardcore NASCAR fan is going to be important in the future. Throwback races are great, but perhaps some of those retro ideas need to be more than skin deep. Or paint in this case.