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Spoilers, Speed Rule The Day At Talladega

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 16 2010
A pack of cars with spoilers tests the high banks at Talladega on Tuesday. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

A pack of cars with spoilers tests the high banks at Talladega on Tuesday. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

After a morning of testing in his Sprint Cup car at Talladega Superspeedway Tuesday, Jeff Gordon had an answer for those wanting to know if replacing rear wings with vertical blade spoilers was going to improve racing in the series.

It was an unsatisfying answer but a frank one: Check back after the test at Charlotte Motor Speedway next week.

As to the question of whether the return to the use of spoilers is a good idea, well, Gordon had a little bit more definite answer to that one: He’s for it.

Twenty-four cars took to the track at Talladega Monday. All had spoilers on their rear deck lids.

Teams started the day with a 1 1/32-inch sized restrictor plate.

Jimmie Johnson had the fastest time in the morning session as he turned a lap at 196.467 mph. That was 8 mph faster than Juan Pablo Montoya’s pole-winning lap last April at Talladega.

Gordon, Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, also posted a lap at better than 196 mph.

In the afternoon session, drivers were able to ride in packs and get the feel for how the spoiler-fitted cars performed in the draft at the high-banked, 2.66-mile superspeedway.

The plate size went down to 31/32 of an inch and the teams adjusted the size of their rear spoilers in order to find that happy medium between high speeds and handling.

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, was pleased with how the adjustments went during the afternoon practice.

“We saw that the closure rates were a little too quick in the initial drafting session after lunch,” said Pemberton. “So, we had the teams make some adjustments, including going down on the plate size and trimming the spoiler back some. We believe we came away here today with a good starting point and are looking forward to coming back here next month with a great race.”

Gordon said that because Talladega is such a unique venue, it was tough to figure out what, if anything, teams learned on Tuesday.

“The balance is really what we’re interested in, is how much the balance is going to change versus just overall grip,” the four-time champion said. “You know, if it plants the back of the car too much, we’re just out of tools to make the front of the car work in turn.  But we’re kind of hoping that it actually helps the front of the car turn a little bit, too.

“So I’m very anxious to get to Charlotte (next week). This test is really what’s going to happen in the draft. You’re not going to find a lot about balance and those things, plus the spoiler is bigger on this car. When we get to Charlotte I think is when we’re going to find out what a spoiler really does in comparison to a wing.”

Gordon will not have to wait to get to Charlotte to make one judgement on the cars which were tested at Talladega: They sure look better.

“Yeah, I was never crazy about the way the wing was mounted on the back of the car,” he said. “When I envisioned a wing being put on our car, I envisioned it a little bit more like a Trans Am car, where it was raised up, more of a cool looking concept, and also fit a function of aerodynamics, just made the cars a little bit more futuristic.

“But, you know, the wing that we put on there was just a glorified spoiler.  It sat down on the deck lid.  It wasn’t very appealing.  We weren’t really using it efficiently.  So when I heard about going back to spoilers, I was totally fine with it. This car looks good with a spoiler on it.”

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

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 16 2010
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • Marc says:

    Look like race cars again?

    They always did, fact is NASCAR is and has been the odd man out when it comes to rear aero devices. Almost all other series of full bodied cars use a wing.

    In fact I have little doubt the Daytona Suits “swiped” the spoiler, and the splitter for that matter, from the Aussie V8 Supercars Series who have run both for several years.

  • Ed says:

    What a great picture. They look like race cars again.