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Speaking at Daytona’s Rolex 24 Hours last weekend, Wilson said he expects the race around the quarter-mile oval inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to be “interesting” but questioned “how bad can we tear stuff up at those speeds?”
NASCAR’s Next Gen Cup car makes its racing debut this weekend in the non-points event. After a troubled development period, due to driver overheating, handling and steering issues, the Next Gen car’s gestation has also been dogged by a parts supply-chain problems.
However, Wilson believes that NASCAR’s decision to allow teams to use up the original front and rear clips, that were redesigned after issues were found in November and December tests, won’t impact crucial parts that are in short supply before heading to Daytona Speedweeks later this month.
“All of the teams are really nervous right now because there’s not a lot of cars sitting on their shop floors,” said Wilson. “Fortunately, NASCAR has kinda loosened-up the regulatory considerations heading to LA that say ‘hey, if you’ve got some old parts laying around, use them’.
“We’re going to be racing in anger at the LA Coliseum, a quarter-mile asphalt track that we haven’t experienced in this sport since 1971… that should be interesting. It looks beautiful right now.”
Creating a racetrack inside a football field means teams won’t experience its challenge until cars turn a wheel for the first time in Saturday’s practice. Wilson says that Toyota’s simulations have promised a very slow average lap speed, which should restrict the potential for damage – despite the fact that short-track racing promotes contact between cars due to its nature.
“What we spend a lot of time on is simulation, and of course we’ve never raced on this track because there wasn’t asphalt on it until very recently,” said Wilson. “But our rough simulation suggests that top [lap] speeds are around 44mph or something like that.
“If you look at it with your glass half full, how bad can we tear stuff up at those speeds? We do a lot of midget and dirt track racing, so we’re used to the format of the heat races, it’ll certainly be exciting.”
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing
Photo by: Jim Utter
Toyota’s Joe Gibbs Racing star Kyle Busch expects that top speeds are “probably going to be around 60mph and the low speed in the corners maybe 20mph.”
In terms of the style of racing he expects, Busch said: It’s going to be action-packed. We aren’t going to be able to spread out and get away from each other. We are going to be all over the top of each other’s bumpers and doors.
“Double-file restarts are going to be really tight, and there’s going to be a lot of fenders bent and probably feelings hurt.”
Motorsport.com sources have indicated that a high percentage of tickets for the event have been sold to people who’ve never been to a NASCAR race before.
“Obviously, the history of the Coliseum is really, really neat,” added Busch. “We’ll put on the best show we possibly can.
“Being it’s such a historic venue, we hope we can get a good crowd out there and enjoy the show, and hopefully have a few new eyeballs come out there and tune in on TV, and keep some of those people to watch our other races during the remainder of the year.”