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Associated Press
Sprint Cup driver Mike Bliss’ car is rolled out the garage during a rain delay Friday in Las Vegas.
auto racing

Drivers relishing car’s possibilities

– A daylong rainstorm kept NASCAR’s teams mostly confined to their garages Friday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Several drivers felt the rain was also the only thing protecting the track’s speed record from the new Gen-6 race car.

Although Denny Hamlin’s criticism of the new car drew heavy attention and a hefty fine from NASCAR this week, most drivers think it’s too early to make any negative judgment about their speedy new rides. In fact, this weekend is the Gen-6’s first real chance to show what it’s got – and the drivers are eager to get rolling.

“I think as we learn more and more about these cars and what makes them work and drive better, things can only get better as far as the product we put out there every week,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday.

While Hamlin correctly pointed out how many adjustments still must be made to the car, many more drivers seem intrigued by the possibilities and potential in their eye-catching new vehicles. What’s more, NASCAR and its three manufacturers built the new car largely to improve racing on 1.5-mile intermediate tracks like the tri-oval in Vegas, where Brad Keselowski will start from the pole Sunday after qualifying was postponed by rain. He’s on the pole by virtue of being the defending series champ.

The first race in the Gen-6 was with restrictor plates at Daytona, a high-banked, 2.5-mile track. Its second outing was at Phoenix on a fairly flat, 1-mile track with few of the challenges drivers will face elsewhere. While Phoenix featured little passing or side-by-side racing, most drivers seem to think the quality of racing will improve on the intermediate tracks that make up most of their schedule.

“For a new car, I thought last week was a really good debut for it,” Tony Stewart said. “I personally think it’s off to a great start, and it’s got a lot of potential. We had good racing, we had a good finish, and everybody is going to keep learning. Everybody has their piece of the equation that they will figure out. You have to start somewhere, and for it to debut the way that it has, I think, has been a very positive start.”

Patrick hit by rock

Danica Patrick says she’s fine after getting hit in the head by a rock on a dirt track.

Patrick got smacked by a stray rock while attending a race Thursday night, leaving her with a sore head. She had a brief conversation with medical staff Friday but felt no problems.

Patrick says the rock hit her “straight in the head,” and she’s glad she had a hat on or “there would have been blood.”

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