CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – Bobby Allison was not the only one of NASCAR’s top drivers, but also a whiz in the garage. He was hardly bashful on Sunday in declaring he “started the aerodynamic revolution” when he designed Chevrolet’s Monte Carlo in the late 1960s.

“That gave them a car that was truly a step into modern aerodynamics,” Allison said. “Now that’s gone too far.”

Allison was at Lowe’s Motor Speedway to serve as grand marshal for the Coca-Cola 600. Before it was postponed by rain until Monday, the three-time winner of NASCAR’s longest race was bemoaning the slow switch of racing cars that closely resembled those in dealership showrooms to the space-age Car of Tomorrow.

“We need cars that the fans in the grandstand can really relate to,” Allison said.

NASCAR shifted to the boxier, more aerodynamic car in hopes of creating competitive balance and reducing costs. But as he took part in the celebration of the 50th running of Charlotte’s Memorial Day weekend race, Allison was pining for the return of cars with an identity.

“One had an advantage one place and another had an advantage somewhere else. It’s still balanced out pretty good and racing was good,” Allison said. “Racing is still really good because the competitors put that extra little piece in there, too. No matter what the rules are the competitors adjust and go on and compete.

“But if they were riding in something that was recognizable to the people buying that ticket in the grandstand I think it would be more attractive.”

Allison just wasn’t expecting NASCAR to heed his suggestions.

“They have always had my phone number, but the only time I can remember them using it was when they called me up to tell me I’d done something wrong,” Allison said. “I may get a phone call about this comment right now.”

Danica’s future

Danica Patrick’s contract is up at the end of this season and there’s speculation the Indy Racing League star, who finished third Sunday at the Indianapolis 500, might jump to NASCAR.

There’s little doubt she would be attractive to sponsors, fans and just about every team owner. But Bruton Smith, the outspoken chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., isn’t sure it would be a smooth transition.

“She’s small and does a good job where she is,” Smith said. “But I think if you tried to bring her (to NASCAR), you’ve got a two-year tour of duty in the race car because she’s not accustomed to what we’re running. But I think it would be wonderful if we could find some women who could really offer the appeal that you’re after and I’m after. It would be great.”

Asked whether Patrick was too small in stature to handle the 800-horsepower stock cars, Smith suggested she would have her hands full.

“Maybe she is,” he said. “But I do know it takes a lot of seat time. If you’re coming from IndyCars into one of these cars, it takes a lot of seat time before she would be in a situation to win one of these events.”

Penske celebrates

Penske Racing’s NASCAR division was watching intently Sunday afternoon when Helio Castroneves put the team into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500.

“I have to admit that I got teary-eyed,” said Kurt Busch, who watched the end of the race from the infield at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “It was really emotional, but so cool, to see Helio win this one. He’s such a great teammate.”

Sam Hornish Jr., too, watched boss Roger Penske celebrate again at Indy.

“I’m thrilled for Roger,” Hornish said. “To win the Indianapolis 500 for the 15th time is an incredible accomplishment.”

Birthday boy

A year ago this weekend, Joey Logano was presented with a huge cake and car owner Joe Gibbs sang happy birthday as the racing phenom turned 18.

On Sunday, Sprint Cup’s youngest driver celebrated his 19th birthday and was to make his first start in the Coca-Cola 600 until the race was postponed a day by rain.

“I think even after the All-Star race I felt very confident about this place,” said Logano, who finished eighth in that event a week ago. “I had a really good car there and I feel like I have a good car here, too.”

Logano’s first full season in the Sprint Cup started with a crash and a last-place finish at the Daytona 500. But the driver of the No. 20 Toyota has slowly improved. He had two top-10 finishes in the three points races before Charlotte.

“The more competitive I get, the more I want to win,” Logano said.

Lug nuts

Matt Kenseth has no problem with one race being a marathon 600 miles. It’s some of the other races he’d change. “I think a lot of races could be shorter and you’d get the same results and they might even be more entertaining,” Kenseth said. “Like Darlington, I’m not sure we have to race 4 hours to have the same effect.” … The speedway hosted eight recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor given to an individual by the U.S. Armed Services. The men were given a standing ovation at the driver meeting. … Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn was in the garage area Sunday.


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