Friday, October 28, 2011

Dale Jr. offers his plan to end two-car tandem drafting

   Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been an outspoken critic of the two-car drafting tandems that have become commonplace at Daytona and Talladega this season. He has maintained from the get-go he much preferred the racing in large packs.

   Earnhardt came up on the short end last Sunday, running much of the race in the back of the pack with teammate Jimmie Johnson. The two failed to make a planned run to the front late in the race, frustrating Earnhardt again.

   Friday at Martinsville Speedway, Earnhardt was asked for his suggestion to NASCAR to change the tandem drafting. This was his response:

   "Well, we need to go test, we need to take a lot of race cars out there and test a lot of things and get creative and unique in the ideas and get everybody on the same packaging and go thoroughly through it. We have three days of testing in Daytona and to be honest, you don’t really do a lot while you are testing in Daytona. You have three days, so you fill it up with ideas and gimmicks and carry on, but you don’t really find things that bring a lot of speed," Earnhardt said.

   "You have a rules package in the back of the car as far as shocks and springs and you have such a stringent guidelines on the bodies, but there are not a lot of things to do in three days, so really it is just your burning fuel and wasting a lot of time. When we go to Talladega, we put the car together, you unload it, you make a couple of laps, make sure nothing falls off and you are ready to race. There is not much to it. We could take those three days or invent another test sooner, and take 15 cars or whatever, go down there and go to Daytona or Talladega and try smaller spoilers.

   "I think the spoilers are way too big, when I look at that spoiler, I can’t imagine there was a lot of study that went behind how effective it would be and what it would do, it is just a big square piece of steel, as wide as it could possibly be, and pretty tall. Make the spoiler more narrow, or smaller, run some softer springs in the back to get the cars a little lower. They have to make the hole that we punch in the air a little smaller. Right now, it is so giant it is very easy for another guy to fit up in that void and draft and push all the way around the race track. They need to bring the ceiling down that the car creates by the hole it pushes in the air, the car just punches a hole in the air and they need to bring that hole closer to the ground. Get a little bit more air on the second car’s windshield cause a little more drag on that car. I think the spoiler is just way too big. The corners on the ends, they could cut those off and round that spoiler off, going back to anywhere from 1998 to 2004, that type of spoiler was a little bit better, even smaller than that."

   Earnhardt's proposed change wasn't limited to the spoilers.

   "We have de-tuned the cars so that they go very slow and we have also resurfaced the race tracks to where they have a lot of grip so you could really take quite a bit away from the spoiler on the back of the car before I believe you would start to feel the handling effects of that. Otherwise, that entire thing does is really try and drag it down. Hopefully, we will get fortunate and the fuel injection will throw a few curve balls in the positive aspect that will change the drafting and change the ways the cars work in the draft. You never know and it might not change anything but maybe those going to fuel injection might have some positive effects," he said.

   "I think we can take the spoiler away, get the back down with softer spring or whatever and different shock package in the back of whatever, and make the cars a little tougher to connect to, when you do those two things it will create a little bit of a beach ball effect in between the cars, like it is an imaginary beach ball in front of you. When you drive up to a guy, you kind of push him away. We will be able to open up the motors a little bit, get the qualifying faster, have a little more response in the cars when we are racing and driving them, but yet, we probably will not draft faster than we do now."


NASCAR statement on Chad Knaus

   NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp issued the following statement on Friday about a meeting between series officials and crew chief Chad Knaus:

   "We had the opportunity to visit with Chad and Jimmie this morning in Martinsville. As the sport's governing body we were doing our due diligence to look into this and gain some insight into the comments Chad made before the race at Talladega. We have a responsibility to the rest of the garage area to ensure that everyone is competing on a level playing field with the inspection processes we have in place. The 48 organization knows that from this occurrence that their car is likely to be a regular customer at the R&D Center for post race inspection the balance of this season."