Slowing Down The Best Racing In Nascar
By RICK MINTER
New engine rules for the Craftsman Truck Series drew mixed reviews during this week's test session at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Beginning this season the trucks are required to run a carburetor spacer that looks similar to the restrictor plates used to slow Cup cars at Daytona and Talladega. The same device will be used in the Nationwide Series this season.
A similar spacer already has been used to slow speeds at Daytona and Talladega, but series officials say the main reason the spacer is being required at all tracks is to save costs for team owners. They say the spacer, along with a rear gear rule that drops the maximum revolutions per minute of the engine from about 8,700 to 8,200, reduces strain on the engine, which will allow teams to use one engine for two races without a rebuild.
But some drivers say the change, which results in a 70-horsepower decrease, was made because the trucks would be the fastest vehicles in NASCAR now that the Car of Tomorrow is being used exclusively in Cup.
"The Craftsman Truck Series had the best racing in NASCAR for years, but they just didn't like us being faster than the big boys, so they had to slow us down," said Brendan Gaughan, who will drive the No. 10 Ford as a teammate to Rick Crawford this year.
Todd Bodine said the rules were changed too much. He said drivers now can run wide open even at tracks like AMS, and the trucks don't have the throttle response needed to make passes and save spinning vehicles.
"(NASCAR) accomplished with COT what they wanted in slowing it down, but they went too far," Bodine said.
"If you want to slow down the trucks, put more right side weight on or slow them down aerodynamically. When you take away all the throttle response, it ruins the racing."
Truck Series director Wayne Auton said the fears of a lack of throttle response and boring racing are unfounded. He said that while drivers may not have to let off the gas entering the corners at some times during a race, that won't always be the case.
"Once the tires get some wear, they'll have to start lifting," he said "In a 25- to 30-lap run on worn tires, they'll still have to lift."
Terry Cook, driving the No. 60 Toyota, posted the fastest lap of the two-day test with a speed of 171.467 mph.
No big changes for NASCAR
Brian France, NASCAR chairman, said during the preseason media tour in Charlotte that this will be a year of little change.
"We're getting back to the basics," he said. "We're going to try to minimize the change going forward as best we can and focus on what we've always focused on, which is the best product in the world."
In one minor change, all money collected from fines issued to drivers will go to the NASCAR Foundation for its charitable causes instead of being added to the points fund.
Rick Minter writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.