Sunday, March 02, 2008

Is this really necessary?

The idea of using restricter-spacers similar to the ones used in the Truck Series in all the Nationwide Series races is one for which the jury is still out, as far as I'm concerned.It is supposed to save the teams money on building engines, allowing the same engines to last for two races rather than one.
The actual reasoning for that is controversial. Some teams have expressed concern that running the engine wide open, even at lower rpms, will do nothing to save the engines.
In these days of concerns about sponsorship, especially in the Nationwide series, it is gratifying that NASCAR is trying to find ways to cut costs, to make sponsorships less expensive, and to help the teams develop, but they changed something that would have worked well for them as far as revenue goes. That is, the quality of the racing.

It will get better as the drivers get used to it, but it was also the cause of several accidents, during both practice and the Sam's Town 300. There were nine cars taken out of the race due to accidents, and at least seven of them were due to misjudgement on the part of the driver in relation to the performance characteristics of the cars. There were also several mechanical failures involving either the engine or the transmission.

The Nationwide series had a chance to have its day in the spotlight. The cars were actually faster than the Cup cars, without the spacer plates, the drivers felt comfortable in the conventional cars, and the racing promised to be excellent this season.The spacer plate seems to have taken away that promise. There is no passing on the straightaways, as we have seen in the Cup cars, because the cars do not speed up coming off the turns, but slow down. Letting up off the throttle causes problems in the cars being able to make the turn, and, as in restricter-plate racing on the Cup level, causes problems for traffic closing from behind.
But, like many a crew chief, NASCAR itself has never heard the adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
There is a need to make sponsorship cheaper, and that would benefit the teams, but it would be benificial to ensure good racing that would draw the crowds and the viewing audience, as that is what will capture the interest of the sponsors. NASCAR needs to find that fine line of balance between the two.
(photos by Mark J Rebilas/US PRESSWIRE courtesy That's

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