By admin | January 13, 2012
By Richard Allen
As the 2012 season approaches it appears as though NASCAR is seriously stepping up its efforts to end, or at least curtail, the 2×2 form of racing that has become the norm on the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega of late. As teams tested in Daytona on Thursday, Robin Pemberton(NASCARâ€™s vice president for competition) delivered a not-so-subtle message to drivers and teams that the sanctioning body wants there to be some big pack racing this season.
One thing NASCAR needs to be careful of is that they donâ€™t get so focused on the small picture of tandem drafting that they lose sight of the bigger picture of providing a good race. Over legislation at this stage could prove detrimental and even dangerous as some of the rulings appear to be making the cars very unstable and drivers very nervous.
In an interview with Sirius XM radio host Claire B. Lang, driver Mark Martin indicated that it looked as if NASCAR is trying to legislate wrecks with some of their rulings. His concern seems to be that cars are being made faster but less stable with each new edict.
Martin was involved in Thursday only on-track incident as his teammate, Clint Bowyer, spun as Martin pushed him in a tight two car draft.
Another consideration should be that this upcoming Daytona 500 will be contested with the all new Electronic Fuel Injection system and every change to the carsâ€™ cooling systems throws another unknown variable into the mix for teams to worry about. Likely, no one wants to see the biggest race in NASCAR boil down to a survival contest as multiple engines expire because of new rules.
The reason for all these drastic changes is that fans and competitors alike have voiced opposition to a form of racing that just doesnâ€™t look right. 2×2 tandem drafting has provided some great finishes and an incredible number of lead changes but it is a system that essentially ties the fate of two drivers together. And more, half the field is doomed to no better than a 2nd place finish.
To NASCARâ€™s credit they have listened to the complaints and are trying to resolve the issue. They just need to be careful not to go too far.
And along those lines, here is one thing to consider. This form of racing will eventually die a natural death at some point. The only reason it can occur at all is that the tracks in both Daytona and Talladega are particularly smooth right now due to recent repaving jobs at both. When the tracks develop a bit more â€˜characterâ€™ with time, cars will not be able to rub bumpers with each other all the way around these massive speedways. They will just naturally have to separate.
Just give it time and it will go away.
On a personal level, I do not like watching this â€˜Noahâ€™s Arkâ€™ style of racing but the over legislated result could be worse if drivers are so fearful of unstable cars that they resort to just riding around. I donâ€™t think anyone wants the two plate tracks to become larger versions of the â€˜cookie cuttersâ€™.
While some legislation is certainly understandable, NASCAR needs to keep the bigger pictures of competition and safety in mind. Just let this thing die as the tracks naturally develop a few bumps here and there.
Here is a companion piece to this column titled, ‘Rules aren’t working so NASCAR just orders drivers to race in big paks’ http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1621
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