Dale Earnhardt Jr.: NASCAR's new cars off to promising start

Jared C. Tilton

They say the first impression is the one that counts, so Tuesday's proclamation by Dale Earnhardt Jr. that he was "really impressed" by NASCAR's 2013 model cars means the new vehicles are already off to a better start than their predecessors.

When the much-hated "Car of Tomorrow" debuted in 2007, Kyle Busch won the first race with the car and quickly announced the COTs "suck."

No one really ever felt differently in the next five years.

But now, with the so-called "Gen Six" cars being tested at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday, NASCAR's biggest star has already given his blessing.

"I think the car has really awesome potential and I like it already leaps and bounds beyond the COT," Earnhardt Jr. said. "This car really gives me a lot of sensations that are similar to the old car that we ran 10 years ago."

For those keeping score, Earnhardt Jr. won 17 races with the "old car" and two races with COT. It was no surprise, then, to hear him say he "never really connected to that (COT) car from the very beginning."

"Just personally, I didn't really like the car for what it was," he said. "The (new) cars that you see in the garage, you'll stand there and you'll see Fords and Toyotas and Chevrolets driving by and it's great because everything looks different and everything is recognizable.

"That's a great feeling for me. I can appreciate the cars for that fact."

Plus, Earnhardt Jr. said, the cars drive better – at least so far. Though he emphasized it was far too early to have a conclusive opinion, the G6 cars "feel like they have a ton more downforce." That could change in different weather conditions, but it's a promising start.

"Today is feeling good and driving good and I think that there is good potential," he said. "The car looks great and looks like a race car to me and I could get excited about that and get behind that."

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