Jeff Burton: More downforce and grip mean better racing

With the notable exception of cars built specifically for restrictor-plate superspeedway racing, NASCAR’s new Gen-6 race car will feature more downforce and mechanical grip than its predecessor, which debuted in 2007.

The way driver Jeff Burton sees it, that means the quality of racing will improve, almost by definition.

“My theory is based on years of experience and watching what’s going on with this sport, how it’s evolved,” Burton said Friday before testing the new car at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We’ve been through this thing — a lot of downforce, little downforce; a lot of grip, low grip; all these different tire combinations.

“At the end of the day, the better the cars are stuck in the race track, the closer the cars run to each other… Especially on big tracks, the better the grip is, the closer the action can be.”

Having tested the Gen-6 car four times before coming to Charlotte, Burton is convinced that the intermediate speedway package for the new car will provide more downforce, more grip and, consequently, closer racing.

“I believe that more grip gives the drivers more opportunity to put their car in a position that they wouldn’t be able to put it, if they didn’t have that grip,” Burton said. “That’s why I think the racing is going to be better.”

As far as downforce goes, the superspeedway cars, which NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers tested last week at Daytona, are different. Because of a smaller spoiler in use at plate tracks, there is less rear downforce with those cars, but that characteristic almost certainly will help eliminate the two-car push-drafting.

“To be clear, the speedway cars have less downforce,” Burton explained. “So there’s a lot less downforce on the Daytona/Talladega cars — assuming they don’t change the spoiler between now and then — and there is quite a bit more downforce on every other car.”