By admin | July 4, 2011
By Richard Allen
After the third of four restrictor plate races scheduled for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series in 2011, there was no shortage of opinions from fans and drivers regarding the style of racing being employed on the tracks in Daytona and Talladega.
Basically since the inception of the carburetor restrictor plates used on what would be NASCAR’s two fastest tracks the cars have raced in huge packs for the entire event distance. Now, due to some recent modifications to cars and tracks the style of racing has changed dramatically. Drivers now choose to race closely tied together in pairings of two, which allows for maximum speed.
Both the Daytona International Speedway and the Talladega Super Speedway have been resurfaced in recent years which has given drivers a very smooth track on which to race. That, in turn, lets cars follow closely behind one another without being broken apart by the bumps on the track. Also, team engineers have worked to improve the cooling systems of cars so that the trailing car can follow behind for longer periods of time without overheating. These two changes, along with a change in mindset of the drivers and teams, have brought about the difference.
The fact is the new form of racing has provided record numbers of lead changes on these two tracks and very exciting finishes. At the same time, however, this style of racing has drawn plenty of scorn from drivers and fans despite those lead changes and close finishes.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was clearly frustrated during the late stages of the Coke Zero 400 this past weekend in Daytona and was not shy about voicing his displeasure to the media after the checkered flag fell. A number of other drivers joined in the chorus of condemnation when given their turns at the microphone.
Also, fans have strong opinions on the matter. Immediately after the race on Saturday night I posed the simple question of, “Good race? Bad race?” on the Twitter social networking site. A flurry of reaction came flying in.
The poster @2001MUgrad wrote, “Sorta feel like my night was a bit wasted honestly.” Another poster, @bdub2000 opined, “Tonight’s race was a waste of my effort to watch.” There were several other messages that may be better left unprinted here.
But while the detractors were probably most numerous in voicing their opinions, there were plenty of fans who posted in support of the so-called ‘Noah’s Ark’ racing.
Twitter participant @jsmith123nv wrote, “Very entertaining and the winner in doubt until the end. 30 cars had a realistic chance to win the race. NFL parity.” And, @p38lightning said, “Other than the fact that it looks weird, it has provided great finishes and pretty good action throughout.”
So the bottom line in regard to the fans seems to be that there is a decidedly mixed reaction. But, no one appears to be in the gray area. Opinions seem to be strong one way or the other.
I’m sure the driver standing in victory lane at the end of each of the plate races held so far might, at least for one day, be considered a fan of the 2X2 style. Perhaps even those who avoided the late race carnage in Daytona and managed to gain points on the competition may have at least withheld their negative comments.
There will be one more plate race in 2011 at Talladega. Even if NASCAR wanted to, there is little that could be done to change the way things are right now. Mid-season would not be the time to enact some type of drastic change to bring the big packs back, especially with that final plate race being held within the Chase for the Championship.
So, love it or hate, you’ve got one more ‘Noah’s Ark’ race to look forward to this season.
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