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."
Before serving as the grand marshal for the Coca-Cola 600 _ a race he won three times _ Allison was bemoaning NASCAR's shift of racing cars that closely resembled those in dealership showrooms to the space-age Car of Tomorrow.
"I think they really need to get rid of the front air dams and get these cars back up on the chassis," Allison said. "And we need Fords and Chevys and Dodges and Toyotas. We need cars that the fans in the grandstand can really relate to."
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. I think where she is now, you don't necessarily drive those cars; you more or less guide them. And she's doing a good job at that."
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 made his first start in the Coca-Cola 600.
"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. "I like being competitive. I like being up here and it takes that little bit more when you're up here to beat these guys."
DOUBLE-FILE STARTS: In last weekend's All-Star race, NASCAR used double-file restarts with all the leaders up front. It produced exciting racing and has led to calls by some to change its policy for points races.
The rule now calls for double-file restarts with lapped cars included on the inside. In the final 20 laps, restarts are single-file.
"Would I like to get rid of the lapped cars? Absolutely," Mark Martin said. "I've been saying that for 20 years. It's been a thorn in my side since I started NASCAR racing in 1981."
But Martin wasn't sold on the double-file restart with only the cars on the lead lap, either.
"You start taking the advantage away," Martin said. "Sometimes second place is not as good as third on a restart or whatever. I'd have to think about that."
Denny Hamlin wants the change.
"The sense I got was when I restarted fourth with a couple laps to go, I still felt I could win the race," Hamlin said of the All-Star race. "You had the single-file restarts at the end of the race and it's just too hard to overcome it feels like."
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 1/2 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 before the race.
AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed to this report.