Sunday, February 13, 2011

NASCAR rule changes are underway

    NASCAR wasted no time in making some changes to limit the abundance of two-car tandems that dominated much of Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout.
   Sprint Cup Series crews were issued technical bulletins on Sunday afternoon outlining changes to the size of the openings of the cars' front grills and the addition of a pressure relief valve to the water system.
   Both are designed to help limit the amount of time cars would be able to "hook up" together before engine temperatures get dangerously high.
   Jimmy Makar, vice president of racing operations for Joe Gibbs Racing, says the changes should decrease the distance drivers can maintain in the two-car tandems.   There could still be additional changes prior to Thursday's Gatorade Duel qualifying races or even Sunday's Daytona 500 if needed, NASCAR officials said.
   "Basically, they’re going to restrict the amount of air that’s going to flow through the radiator with a smaller opening in the grill so you’re going to get less cooling through your radiator,” Makar said. “That will tend to make your cars run hotter when you’re in the draft too long. It’s going to make you have to step out more often.
   “The valve is going to keep you from being able to run a pressurized water system to where you don’t boil water as quickly. You’re not going to have the ability to run a lot hotter than 220 to 230ish. It will drop that number down a little bit as to how hot you can run the motor before you start pushing water out.”
   Officials will continue to monitor speeds, which topped upwards of 206 mph by some drivers on Saturday night.


  1. All of these adjustments are futile, and will do nothing to increase the safety or competitiveness of the races at these 2 tracks. Improvement will only come when they eliminate the stupid restrictor plates. It still baffles me that they have kept these things even after they killed one of the 5 best drivers in the history of the sport. Idiots.

  2. J - the restrictor plates have never caused any harm. The speeds are the issue. They need a smaller restrictor plate to get the speeds below 194 and KEEP them down there.

    The racing with restrictor plates has always been superior to anything else; the problem here is John Darby is meddling in how savagely they race for the lead based on a fundamentally flawed model of racing - the same model he's used all decade, the one that led to six tire changes, two spoiler reductions, three swaybar changes, and the COT in the 2004-8 period.

  3. Jim - I would love you to take up the cause of your predecessor on the NASCAR beat. Remember the last entry of his "Life in the Turn Lane" blog? He asked, is it really going to take someone dying on the track to get changes made at Taladega?

    I respectfully disagree with Monkeesfan's reply to my earlier comment. While it is true that the speeds are out of control, it's the combination of the high speeds and the cars running in 25-car packs that have caused near-fatal and fatal wrecks at these tracks. I'm not just talking about Earnhardt - consider the wrecks of Carl Edwards and Elliot Sadler at Taladega in recent years, and the 20-car pile-up before the wreck that killed Earnhardt in the '01 Daytona 500. The restrictor plates keep the cars in packs, no matter what they do to the grill or spoiler or tire or anything else. That's never going to change, and that's why the plates have got to go.

    Of course, taking the plates off would be like admitting the France family made a mistake in 1988 in putting them on. And as we all know, the France family are Gods and they are never to be questioned and they never make mistakes. I guess we have to hope that the next superstar that gets killed - and if they keep this form of racing going, someone WILL get killed - maybe that will wake them up. But it would be nice if it didn't have to come to that.

  4. J - we do not see fatal and near-fatal wrecks anywhere but the NON-plate tracks.

    Atlanta, Michigan, Charlotte, Fontana, Texas, New Hampshire, Richmond, Kansas, Bristol, Pocono, Homestead, Gateway - the last twenty years have seen these tracks be the dangerous ones.
    Melees such as the plethora of injuries and an ARCA death at Atlanta in 1998 and the Keselowski flip last year; melees at Fontana; fatal and airborne wrecks at Texas; Nadeau's career-ending crash at Richmond; hard hits at Gateway ending with Edwards going psycho on the last lap at Gateway last season; the Truck race that sliced open some sixty feet of fencing at Bristol - and onward.

    "Consider the wreck of Carl Edwards." No. The cars were so spread out you'd have thought there were only four cars on the whole racetrack. And Elliott Sadler - hardly worse than Keselowski at Atlanta or his own crash at Pocono.

    "The restrictor plates keep the cars in packs." They are supposed to be in packs - it is not racing when handling gets in the way of passing.

    We've already had more driver deaths on non-plate tracks than we can take the risks at the plate tracks seriously. You're viewing the problem backwards - it's the LACK of restrictions that make racing more dangerous. You're not going to see someone die because of restrictor plate racing. Period.