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Work Routines Being Spoiled

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, February 26 2010
Teams are working on their wings and their spoilers these days. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Teams are working on their wings and their spoilers these days. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Which team will win the Sprint Cup championship in the coming fall? It just might be the team that is best at multitasking during the current winter.

Teams right now today – the smart ones, at least – are not only working on conquering the challenges at hand, they are also grinding away on a challenge which will present itself early this spring. The challenge of making cars with blade spoilers go fast.

Earlier this year, NASCAR officials announced that they were yielding to fan and driver pressure by making a major alteration to the Cars of Tomorrow which the Cup series has been running since 2007.

Gone would be the COT’s signature rear wing. In its place would be the vertical blade spoilers which had been in use for many years pre-COT.

The new spoilers have been tested on the cars – during a tire test at Texas Motor Speedway a couple weeks ago.

And they will be tested again soon as another test is set for Talladega.

And while NASCAR has not announced exactly where or when the new/old spoilers will make their race debuts, word is it will be in March or early April.

That’s a ways off. But not really. Not for Sprint Cup teams.

Jeff Burton of Richard Childress Racing finished third last weekend at Auto Club Speedway. The finish moved him to fifth place in the series point standings.

He was asked after the race, what he and his team must work on if they are going to improve even more by the end of the season.

Burton’s answer was vintage Burton – thoughtful and insightful.

“Spoilers,” he said. “We got to start working on spoilers. That’s going to be a big change.”

Burton’s is not the only team working on spoilers these days.

“You’re getting that and that’s something RPM and Roush and that whole combination is working on is the spoiler,” Kasey Kahne of Richard Petty Motorsports said Friday. “They’re putting a lot into it because that’s what we’re gonna run the season on the majority of the year, so I actually look forward to running that because we’ve been putting the time into it and hopefully it’ll be a little better than what we have now.”

Not that teams can just ditch what they running now. There are several important races left to be run with wings – starting with Sunday’s Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

There are hundreds of valuable points on the line in the remaining wing races. But then again, there will be thousands of points on the line once the spoilers are bolted on.

Hence the importance of multitasking.

“When the spoiler comes, you better be ready,” Burton said. “If we get behind, you won’t catch back up anytime soon.

“We did that all last year. So that’s where I think the whole garage is working right now.”

Working now on the spoilers will definitely benefit the teams and drivers.

But will implementing the things ultimately benefit fans and the series in the form of better racing?

Kevin Harvick, Burton’s RCR teammate, was asked that very question this week.

His answer was: Perhaps.

“I think the closing rate is going to be…definitely going to be a little bit faster than it is now, even than it was at Daytona with the wing,” Harvick said.

He said he would know better after the next round of tests.

“I know we have a test coming up in Talladega with the spoiler,” Harvick said. “So I think we will really be able to tell from there. And based on a lot of the characteristics of what we have done with the spoiler so far, I don’t see a lot of the characteristics changing in the car. So I don’t think that the style of the racing that we have seen so far is really going to change. Most of that is just going to be the appearance of the car.

But I think the biggest unknown is there’s definitely a balance shift as far as aerodynamics with the spoiler on the car and it’s just going to be a matter of getting that balance back right with the way that you can – the small things that you can do with the car.

“So I don’t think the style of racing that you have seen so far is going to change, and I think the Superspeedway racing should get even better than it was at Daytona.”

Especially for the teams which come out quickly with a good spoiler package.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, February 26 2010
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