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Old 26 Jan 2002, 03:24 (Ref:204564)   #1
Roselady3
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Roselady3 should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Drivers Need for MORE speed

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

Drivers feel need for more speed
New rules keeping cars below 185 mph

BY REA MCLEROY WHITE
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Jan 25, 2002


Owners still are bickering about which manufacturer has the best car. But NASCAR drivers agree on one aspect of racing at Daytona International Speedway: The cars will be going slower.

After preseason testing at Daytona, speeds failed to top 185 mph. A new aerodynamic rules package has altered the handling of the cars and allowed for more separation between cars. But without increased speed, drivers say the impact of NASCAR's new rules is weakened.

After a series of races highlighted by massive pileups at tracks where restrictor plates are used to harness engine power, drivers and owners demanded changes. They didn't like the tight packs of cars. Drivers didn't like the lack of control they had over their own fate. One car slipped in the draft in the Daytona 500 last year, and 21 drivers ended up needing repairs.

Enough was enough.

Daytona and Talladega have caused difficult problems for NASCAR. Some question whether races at these tracks ever can be made comfortable for drivers, but no one has devised a plan that satisfies most of the field. This year's new package includes changes to increase handling and give the drivers more control.

But it leaves the teams seeking speed.

"We've gone from one extreme to the next," Jeff Gordon said. "It took several, several laps to make a pass [during testing], and there were a lot of things you needed to do there to move the air around. . . . I think there's probably a few things NASCAR might be able to do before we get back down there in February, maybe give us a little more power."

The answer, say drivers, is a bigger restrictor plate. If they can reach a higher speed, the drivers can break away a little more and find some needed breathing room. Most agree that running in the neighborhood of 190-195 mph would ease the tension.

"There's nothing wrong with going a little faster," Bobby Labonte said. "Make the cars handle a little worse. They'll still handle pretty good. You're still going to be bunched up in a pack of cars, and people won't be able to pass as easy, but there's still going to be a group of cars that go a little faster and separate a little bit."

Said Dale Jarrett: "I think the speeds need to escalate. It would make for better racing, more passing. The rules were made last year so there would be a pass on the last lap. There wasn't."

Jarrett understands the sanctioning body can't please everyone. Fans seemed to love the recent restrictor-plate races. It seemed a different driver emerged from a tight pack to take the lead every lap. This created a higher likelihood of crashes involving a large portion of the field.

Finding the line between exciting races for fans and competitive races for drivers is difficult. The current rules seem to be a step in the right direction. Drivers expect this year's event to be more like the 1999 Daytona 500, a race billed as boring by media members and fans. Drivers bristled at that implication, pointing to the hard driving and skill needed to succeed in the event.

This year's Daytona 500 may feature fewer passes, but drivers think that is a small price to pay to make sure everyone leaves the track uninjured.

"It will be different this time," Mark Martin said. "We had a tragedy last year at Daytona and we've had some near misses . . . Let's keep that in mind, and be patient with it and see how it goes."
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Old 27 Jan 2002, 03:33 (Ref:205056)   #2
Lee
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Lee should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
They need and want more speed, and more throttle response. What they want and need, they should get!
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Old 27 Jan 2002, 04:14 (Ref:205058)   #3
Roselady3
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Roselady3 should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
The trucks seem to have it. I was appalled that for the second year in a row the trucks actually reported faster times than the cup cars.
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