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No more shifting gears at Pocono and other thoughts

By admin | June 5, 2008

By Richard Allen

 

Remember when the races at Pocono were somewhat interesting?

A few years ago NASCAR teams could use varying gear ratios that would allow drivers to shift on the long straights. However, for whatever reason, the sanctioning body decided to shift gears and start mandating gear ratios within very limited ranges so that everyone would be essentially the same. Thus, the days of shifting on the 2.5 mile “roval” came to an end.

Perhaps NASCAR felt as though they were saving teams from themselves. There would usually be a certain amount of attrition from blown engines that resulted from shifting. If that indeed was NASCAR’s intent they have over stepped their bounds. What was wrong with teams blowing engines? If they made their own decision to use a particular gear ratio then there is nothing wrong with letting them live with the consequences.

The shifting element added a certain degree of uniqueness to the track and made for interesting speculation as to who was shifting, where they were shifting and how often they were shifting. Instead, like everything else, NASCAR decided it was best to just mandate everything and take away any area where a team might find some edge.

Not just at Pocono but on virtually every track NASCAR mandates gear ratios, camber, wing angles, and numerous other parts and pieces.

And while on the subject of Pocono. Why did NASCAR not run the Car of Tomorrow here last year? The CoT was used on short tracks, smaller intermediate tracks, road courses and even at Talladega. Since this track is essentially a road course with all left turns the use of the CoT would have been acceptable.

And more on the subject of Pocono. I know it gets plenty of ink every year but this race is too long, and that is coming from a guy who is apt to argue that some races are too short. 500 miles on this track is an endurance test for fans as much as drivers, especially when cars get spread out and there is very little racing going on.

But finally, back to the main point, NASCAR has too many of their own hands on the Car of Tomorrow. Teams hire engineers and mechanics for a reason and that is to make the cars go as fast as possible as safely as possible. All NASCAR needs to really be concerned with is setting some clearly defined perimeters and making sure teams stay within those perimeters. A sanctioning body does not need to be in the business of handing out so many parts and pieces. Let the teams worry about that.

It will make the racing better at Pocono and everywhere else.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

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