By admin | January 12, 2012
By Richard Allen
Since last year’s Daytona 500 drivers have spent entire races on the two restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega running in tight two car tandems. And since that time a number of fans and competitors have voiced their disdain for that style of racing.
In an effort to reduce the number of laps drivers could run 2×2, NASCAR has enacted a series of rule changes. Radiators and overflow tanks have been reduced in capacity, grille openings reduced, restrictor plates opened up, springs softened and spoilers shortened in attempts to break up the tight drafts. And even with all of those edicts, the 2×2 form of racing continued in Thursday’s test session.
After not only making a number of mechanical changes, NASCAR even went so far as to prohibit driver to driver radio chatter in hopes that the inability to communicate would discourage the practice.
However, the first day of pre-season testing at the Daytona International Speedway revealed that little had changed. Cars continued to log lap after lap in tight formation. Drivers only appeared to separate a bit and switch places in line for show more than out of necessity.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. confirmed that little had changed when at an evening fan appreciation appearance he indicated that drivers were not being entirely honest in regard to how long they could push another car. He said that the rear car could push essentially as well as before the rule changes.
So, it appears that to get drivers to race in bigger packs, NASCAR is going to resort to the old parental standby of, “Just do it because I said so.”
In a Friday afternoon press conference, the sanctioning body’s vice president for competition, Robin Pemberton, offered drivers some words of ‘encouragement’. “The message will be coming down to them soon,” the VP said of NASCAR’s desire to see pack racing during the drafting sessions of Friday and/or Saturday.
And to further clarify what that word is, Pemberton went on to say, “They know it’s in the best interests of everyone to get out there in larger groups.”
In other words, “You’re going to go out there and run around in packs whether you want to or not.” And to continue translating for Mr. Pemberton, “This race is not going to end up as a 500 mile 2×2 chess match.”
In his own words, Pemberton did go on to indicate that small doses of tandem racing were OK, just not a full race worth.
Ultimately, it is almost a certainty that there will be large packs of cars riding around the Daytona International Speedway before the end of this test, and very likely in the big race itself. The tandem drafts may well be broken up, not because the rules caused it but because NASCAR said so.
Here is a companion piece to this column titled, ‘Don’t over legislate because 2×2 will eventually die a natural death’ http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1622
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