By admin | February 13, 2011
By Richard Allen
After Saturday’s Bud Shootout at the Daytona International Speedway there have been a number of adjectives used to describe the type of racing seen so far in SpeedWeeks. Unique, strategic, crazy, fast, frustrating, confusing, risky, exciting and unpredictable have been said. However, the one I choose to use above the rest is wild.
For whatever reason, be it the track’s new asphalt or the new nose on the cars mandated by NASCAR, the drivers have found that the fastest way around the 2.5 mile speedway is in groups of two cars running closely together. That creates the odd looking situation of having cars running in little pairs as if they are lining up to board Noah’s Ark.
The two car drafts cause a significant increase in speed which in turn creates a situation where a duo of cars coming from behind close rapidly on those in front of them. The speed difference is estimated to be as much 10mph, if not more. However, cars cannot stay in this formation for long as the car in the rear tends to overheat due to the fact that no air is allowed to its radiator while tucked so closely behind the lead car.
A potential problem with this type of racing comes from the possibility of several of those two car tandems arriving in the same place at the same time. This happened in the Bud Shootout and resulted in a multi-car wreck.
For those who have at some time played NASCAR Kart on the Wii game player may recognize the racing at Daytona. On that game two cars work together in a partnership to build up a charge and slingshot by the other teams. That was very much what racing in the Bud Shootout looked like on Saturday.
After Dale Earnhardt, Jr. captured the pole position for the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon, NASCAR issued some rule changes it hopes will break up the two car drafts and thus eliminate some of this Wii type racing. By mandating a smaller opening on the grille and reducing radiator pressure the sanctioning body believes the rear car in the tandems will be forced seek air to cool the engine which will break up the pairings.
Whether these changes work or not remains to be seen. NASCAR is rumored to be considering lessening the opening on the carburetor restrictor plates after the Dual 150 qualifying races on Thursday if speeds remain too fast and pairs racing continues.
Just because NASCAR forces teams to reduce the air intake area of the grilles will likely not cause drivers to give up on the fastest way around the track. They will risk the car running a little hot to win the biggest race on the schedule.
The bottom line is, this is certain to be one of the most unique, strategic, crazy, fast, frustrating, confusing, risky, exciting and unpredictable races in Daytona 500 history. No doubt, it’s going to be wild.
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