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The next generation racecar in the Nextel Cup series made its debut in 2007 and will become the standard vehicle for the series in 2008.
The Car Of Tomorrow, or the COT is the culmination of seven years of development by NASCAR's Research and Development center. The stated goals for the car are improved driver safety, enhanced competition and cost containment.
Safety features on the new car include:
The adjustable rear wing is designed to provide better balance and control in traffic. It replaces the rear spoiler.
The front splitter is also adjustable and enables teams to tune the front downforce to suit individual drivers and tracks.
The race weekend inspection process also changed. Previously racecars were inspected using a large number of templates. The process using the templates was tedious and could take up a great deal of time. It was also somewhat subjective.
The inspection process has been streamlined for the new cars and uses lasers and only a few templates. NASCAR also certifies the chassis when the car is built allowing for a quicker inspection at the track.
When NASCAR teams competed with their previous racecars, teams had to build a fleet of cars all designed for different tracks. There were cars specifically built for short tracks, intermediate tracks and superspeedways.
With the adjustable rear wing and front splitter along with a more defined body and chassis inspection process, teams will not need to build track-specific race cars. These factors help make it more cost-effective for the teams according to NASCAR.
“The Car of Tomorrow will alter the competitive landscape of NASCAR in a very positive way,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “We believe the drivers will be safer than ever; we believe the racing will be better than ever; and we believe the Car of Tomorrow will help control costs over the long haul.”
NASCAR's original plan called for a gradual ‘rollout' of the COT. 16 races in 2007, 26 events in 2008 with the cars becoming the full time racecar in 2009. The first COT race was in March of 2007 at Bristol, and after four races NASCAR decided to poll team owners.
Based on this input and the success of the COT in those first four races, on May 22, 2007 NASCAR announced that the Car of Tomorrow would become the full time machine starting with the 2008 season.