Thursday, October 27, 2011
Sources: NASCAR eyes drafting limits
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR is looking at further changes in order to reduce the amount of two-car drafting in time for the 2012 Daytona 500, sources close to the situation said Thursday.
NASCAR has made two changes designed to affect drafting at Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway, enlarging the size of the restrictor plate hole to increase speed and adjusting the pop-off valve in the cooling system to increase the threat of overheating. However, the changes did not work as hoped and the two-car draft received harsh criticism from fans and caused controversy among teams.
On Wednesday, five-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson referred to "big changes for Daytona" in his chat on ESPN.com.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN one of the possible solutions is a smaller spoiler which teams experimented with during the final 45 minutes of last Thursday's fuel injection test at Talladega.
Sources said driver feedback indicated the smaller spoiler made it harder to draft and harder to back up into the car pushing it.
"I haven't driven it myself, but I think they have a direction they're working on," Johnson said in his chat.
Sunday's race ended in controversy with Tony Stewart complaining that Paul Menard didn't push him on the final restart. That allowed Menard's Richard Childress Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton to pull away and race for the win.
There also was controversy over Trevor Bayne leaving Chevrolet driver Jeff Gordon on the final restart to help fellow Ford driver Matt Kenseth.
Team owner Jack Roush told ESPN.com he's not sure there is anything with the current cars that NASCAR can do to eliminate the two-car tandem.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said during the Talladega fuel injection test that NASCAR is concerned about the apparent unhappiness of fans with the two-car tandem, "but you have to be careful because the cure can be way worse than the disease."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.