Door-to-door racing might be exciting to fans, but at Talladega and Daytona, it's conduciv
This was an idea offered by Chad Knaus, crewchief for Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's car. The theory is that if the tires were smaller, there would be less grip in the corners and the drivers would have to slow down. If they had to slow down in the corners, they could accelerate down the straights and we could see racing again.
In theory it sounded great. There's only one thing wrong, though. Goodyear says it won't work.
The problem is that even at Daytona and Talladega, the cars haven't begun to approach the limit of adhesion of their Goodyears. As race tires get hot, they get softer and softer until their surface feels almost like a gum eraser. The tires offer both grip and rolling resistance as the soft surface grips the track.
"If NASCAR went to a narrower tire, it really wouldn't slow the cars down in the corners," says Rick Campbell, team leader for NASCAR tire development. "Worse yet, the narrower tire would decrease rolling resistance, and the speeds down the straight would probably go up."
In addition to that, the teams would just suck the bodies up closer to accommodate the skinnier tires, and the cars would become narrower and faster.
"The bottom line is that a narrower tire isn't going to slow anything down," says Campbell. "Just the opposite will happen. Speeds will go up."
One way to break up the packs of cars at restrictor-plate tracks might be to use single-fi
Well, this may have potential for all the reasons that narrow tires don't. Imagine a Nextel Cup car that is bigger and wider and rides on steamroller-sized rubber. We'll get to that later.
A few crewchiefs-and even more drivers-have suggested NASCAR get rid of carburetors altogether and go to some form of fuel injection. Carburetors on modern production cars went out with points ignition and chrome bumpers, and the technology to build a race-ready carb is about as viable today as the ability to fix eight-track tape players.
Engine builders feel that a fuel-injected engine would be more efficient and more reliable, because fuel flow and mixture could be more precisely controlled, eliminating things like an over-lean condition that turns expensive pistons into cheap souvenir ashtrays.
One of the greatest advantages of an injected engine is better throttle response. Consider that at Daytona, teams are running a carburetor that looks about as big as an office trash can, but the fuel has to flow through four holes the size of a quarter. It is like asking an Olympic sprinter to compete wearing a painter's mask.
NASCAR, of course, gets the collective shakes at even the thought of adopting such radical new technology. Its tech inspectors can understand carbs; they measure the holes, check the throttle plates, and verify the legality of the intake manifold. By comparison, fuel injection borders on magic, with little electrons running up and down wires, firing injectors at just the right instant for just the right length of time.
In contrast, the restrictor plate is about as complicated as a box-end wrench. NASCAR has boxes of them. They cost about $10 each, but can require an entity such as Dale Earnhardt Inc. to invest $1.5 million or more in developing unique restrictor-plate engines. At the track, plates are issued at random as cars go through the tech line. After qualifying or a race, no one on the team can open the hood until an inspector is there to remove the plate. When a team wins or puts a car on the pole, the plate they used is taken out of service and sent to NASCAR's tech minions so they can find out what, if anything, made it better than the others.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of going to injectors is the possibility of getting rid of the mechanical fuel pump mounted to the side of the engine, and the occasional fuel fire that occurs whenever it gets ripped off in a crash.
Consider that over the past few years, the best racing at Daytona Speedweeks has been in the Craftsman Truck Series. The trucks have the aerodynamic integrity of a family-size freezer, but under the hood of each of those trucks thunders an unrestricted engine that makes more power and torque than any vehicle NASCAR fields at Daytona.