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Drivers Say It’s A Good Idea To Clip The Wings

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, January 15 2010
Sprint Cup cars without wings will be tested in March at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sprint Cup cars without wings will be tested in March at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

Daytona Beach, Fla. – With NASCAR having informed race teams that a test would be held at Charlotte Motor Speedway on March 23 and 24 to test a rear spoiler in place of the current wing, drivers at a Daytona International Speedway media event on Friday weighed in on the possible effects of the change.

There’s no indication that dimensions for the spoiler have been determined or when it might debut in a race.

It appears that the change is being considered because fans – and some drivers – don’t like the wing, but Ryan Newman, a driver who is also schooled as an engineer, said it’s no sure thing that the spoiler will make for better racing, even though he prefers it from a standpoint of how it looks on the car.

Newman pointed out that in the Camping World Truck Series, which uses the spoiler, there’s a problem when two vehicles run through a turn side-by-side. He said the aerodynamic forces make it difficult for the driver on the inside to keep from losing rear traction and spinning out. That hasn’t been the case in Cup, he said.

“I think that the wing made our side-by-side racing better,” he said. “But I think with our problems that we’ve seen at the fast race tracks, and fortunately we haven’t seen it outside the race tracks at the restrictor plate tracks, when a car gets spun around, it’s typically going to go for a ride,” he said.

Newman pointed out that the wing creates downforce going forward but lift when a car has been spun around, and that tends to negate the effect of the roof flaps that are designed to keep spinning cars on four wheels.

“I don’t know how much testing was done when the wing was put in place in respect to all these things, but I think in the end NASCAR is doing a lot of work and doing a lot of great things to do what’s best, and I think having a test like that is great,” he said. “I’ve been a very big advocate of no testing, but I think this is a good thing for the sport, and I think (Charlotte) is a great race track to test at in respect to what we can learn with a spoiler versus a wing for all racetracks.

“Obviously the faster you go, the more it has an effect from an aerodynamic standpoint. A spoiler at Martinsville is going to mean a lot less versus a wing than going to Atlanta or Texas.”

Jeff Gordon was asked what effect the spoilers will have on racing and drivability of the cars.

“I guess people have different theories,” Gordon said. “The first things that I’ve heard from our engineers is that a rear spoiler should add total downforce to the car, which might change the balance and give it a little more front to it, which I think would be a great thing. But everybody has different theories.

“Until we get out there on the track – and the wind tunnel is not always the most accurate way to test these things. But we need more front downforce. Every weekend, every team out there is complaining the car won’t turn in the middle, won’t turn in the middle, won’t turn in the middle. I’m up for anything that would get the car to turn in the middle.

“I don’t think we should be adding downforce to the car to be honest with you. I think that if we really want to make the racing better, we need to take some downforce away. But this car’s high CG (center of gravity) and all the right side weight and all that stuff, maybe it does need more downforce.”

Mark Martin said he didn’t anticipate that teams would launch into extensive at-track testing programs.

“I just don’t see it being something where the race teams are going to go out and test everywhere that we can test because I think you’re going to bolt it on and you’re going to go race and you’re going to go to wind tunnel and you’re going to work and develop it along,” Martin said.

Matt Kenseth said it’s a good time for his team, which struggled for most of last season after winning the first two races, to tackle a rules change.

“Whenever they change something and you’re not running great, it’s kind of a good thing because you hope to get back on top of it and you hope you work out different set ups and can try some different things,” he said.

But Kenseth did say he thought the spoiler would be less forgiving than the wing has been.

“There’s never really been a penalty for making a mistake, and there’s never really been a reward for keeping it off the wall all day, because you can slam them into the wall so hard and they still run the same speed,” he said. “You can get them sideways 45 degrees and almost anybody can catch them. They’re so forgiving with that wing and everything.

“I think this is going to get it back to being a little more like what we had before, maybe a little less forgiving and make qualifying a little bit more exciting, where some people might get over the edge and not be able to catch it type of thing. I don’t know what it’ll do, but I think it’ll make it a little bit more difficult.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, January 15 2010