Monday, January 16, 2012

NASCAR - Changes for 2012


There are a little over forty days left until the Daytona 500. Obviously, I’m thrilled. Are you thrilled? Come on. Let’s be thrilled together.

The new season brings changes to the NASCAR rule book. Let’s chat about ‘em one at a time.

First, let’s chat about this one…

NASCAR will make the cars faster, less stable and more prone to overheating. The sanctioning body increased the diameter of restrictor-plate openings 1/32nd of an inch to 15/16ths inches, adding an estimated 26 horsepower to the engines. In addition, NASCAR has lowered the pressure relief valve settings from 30 pounds per square inch to 25 psi and narrowed the grille openings of the cars, thereby decreasing airflow to the engine. Both measures are designed to decrease the number of laps one car can push another without overheating.

There’s a whole of stuff happening here, but let me just state the obvious. Right now, with the drafting the way it is, and the lack of drafting experience by most of the drivers on the track, things are often wild. When a driver that is pushing, suddenly starts to overheat, he needs to find a safe way to remove himself from the car in front of him so he doesn’t put the guy in the wall. Here’s a bit of honesty…several of the drivers out on the track aren’t great drafting partners. You either got it or you don’t. And there’s a whole lot of trust that has to be placed between the two drivers or it’ll be sloppy. And sloppy isn’t pretty.

UPDATE: NASCAR announced more changes for Sprint Cup Series teams after the second day of testing at Daytona International Speedway on Friday. Teams will receive a smaller restrictor plate with an opening of 29/32nd of an inch, down from 15/16ths, to decrease the amount of air intake to the engine. The radiator opening was shrunk from 3.5-by-18 inches to 2-by-20 inches, or from 63 square inches to 40. And the pressure relief valve is now 21 pounds per square inch from the 25psi they used Friday

As I was saying, the frequency of the switching of lead car to pushing car in the tandem draft, makes the track dangerous. Cars moving around that much is never a good thing. Changes in air flow can wreck even the most experienced of drivers. This new change will make the frequency of switching even more, therefore perhaps causing more trouble out on the track.

Kyle Busch is notorious for having an overheated engine. Mostly because he drives the hell out of it. Pedal to the metal, man. All the way! But, if him and Joey Logano need to keep switching places more times than they go around the track, they could be setting themselves up for something bad. Hopefully they can stay out front where there’s no traffic. Switching places in the middle of 41 other cars is tricky too.

Thoughts? Anyone agree? Disagree? Let’s chat about it.

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