NASCAR & Auto Racing

Engineers have bigger role with new car, Stewart says

With the Cup drivers putting NASCAR’s new generation car of tomorrow through its paces this week for the first time on the 1.5-mile oval at Texas, there are still lots of questions about how the cars will perform.

Two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart is convinced figuring out the CoT is now, more than ever, a cooperative effort between the drivers and the team engineers.

“Because (the CoTs are) not designed to handle as well, it obviously puts the driver more in the equation,” Stewart said. “But, what it’s put a high emphasis on now is engineering.

“You’re still not going to make it any faster than it’s able to go. Now, you have to rely on the engineers to find the combination that will make the car go fast, and then you just wrestle the car from that point. A driver won’t be able to make up the difference. We’re not going to be able to take a 10th-place car and run first with it.”

So, does that mean the car is not going to change much from the time it rolls off the team hauler at each track?

“I think you’ll find a range that works,” Stewart said. “Everybody is still trying to figure it out, especially on the mile-and-a-half and two-mile ovals, where that ‘sweet-spot’ is. And once you find it, you don’t stray very far from one side to the other.

“A computer program is going to tell you what you have to run now. The Roush guys talked about that last year, that when they get to the track they get a sheet that says, ‘This is what the simulation program tells us is the setup to run.’ And the setup is pretty much right on.”