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Race Day: Blades And More Power At DIS

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 3 2010

Daytona International Speedway will be the site of tonight's Coke Zero 400. The Sprint Cup cars will have a different look and feel to them. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

In tonight’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, the Sprint Cup cars will be fitted with vertical blade spoilers at the 2.5-mile oval for the first time since the introduction of the Car of Tomorrow.

The cars will also be fitted with restrictor plates with larger air holes.

This weekend, drivers talked about the effects of those changes and here is what a select group had to say:

Tony Stewart, on spoiler: “I think the grip level is what makes it different.  When you compare Daytona to Talladega, you are really comparing apples to oranges.  At Talladega handling is not an issue at all.  I mean everybody’s cars drive really well and that is the situation six or seven months from now we will be in.  As far as tomorrow night is concerned this track is still now very much a handling track and I am not sure the spoiler versus the wing is not going to make much of a difference as far as the racing is.

Greg Biffle, on bigger plate: “Yeah, I think it’s tremendously faster.  It’s a lot faster. I didn’t look at the lap time exactly, but Erwin told me it was about a second faster.  You can kind of feel the sensation of speed inside the car that we’re running a little bit faster.   What it’s gonna do is give the car more acceleration. We’re all gonna run down in the corner two or three-wide, bunched up, and after we get about 10 laps on our tires – usually after about three laps here everybody is coming out of the gas – but what’s gonna happen is everybody is gonna be coming out of the gas because their car is slipping and sliding, but when you go back to the gas it’s gonna have a lot more acceleration, so I think you’re gonna be able to complete passes easier with that extra power.

Jamie McMurray, on the whole package: “The cars are a handful here and it makes it probably more exciting from a driver’s perspective because you’ve got a lot more going on and you’ve got to make your car handle well.”

Fast facts

What: Coke Zero 400

Where: Daytona International Speedway

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: TNT, 6:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 128

Track layout: 2.5-mile tri-oval

Banking in turns: 31 degrees

Banking in trioval: 18 degrees

Race distance: 160 laps/400 miles

Estimated pit window: 36-38 laps

2009 winner: Tony Stewart

2009 polesitter: Tony Stewart (rainout)

2010 polesitter: Kevin Harvick (rainout)

Trivia time

Last year, Tony Stewart won the 400 from the pole at DIS. Prior to that, who was the last driver to win a DIS race from the pole?

Brief conversation, with…Jimmie Johnson

The Chase has been very, very good to Jimmie Johnson. Under the format, he has won four consecutive championships.

On Friday at Daytona, NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said changes may be coming to the Chase.

Later in the day, Johnson responded to a couple questions about potential changes to his format:

Question: What have you told NASCAR about changes and do you think there should be any?

Johnson: “From my conversations with them, they are very serious about making some changes.  I don’t know what that exactly looks like because we’ve talked about minor changes all the way to some very extreme options that they are considering.  I really don’t know where it’s going to end up.  I know that their No. 1 goal is to make it entertaining and exciting. The thing I keep questioning them on is making sure that it follows the history of our sport and a champion is crowned in a way that respects the past and past champions.  Some of the ideas I’ve heard are absolutely crazy—it’s more of a craps shoot than anything.  That side of it if it comes down to it, I wouldn’t agree with, but it’s not my series and I don’t get to make those decisions, so we’ll just role with it and see what happens.”

Q: If it involves eliminations or a different point system, would you be OK with that?

JJ: “I don’t mind some type of elimination process, but I think that when you come down to crowning the champion, it can’t be about one race and that option has been thrown around as well.  I just think that’s unfair.  I think it takes away from the history of our sport and we’re already down to 10 races to crown a champion, to have things reset after nine and winner take all—I just don’t think it reflects and respects what our sport is about.  But I’m just one opinion; I’m sure there are many other out there.”

Q: What is your opinion of the winner takes it all format we have today:

JJ: “What’s funny is that when I brought up my points of view they all busted into laughter saying, ‘We expected this out of you.’  I was OK, ‘No, no, that’s fine.  I’ll race any way.’  I had a real hard time with the Chase in general, because I felt like it took away from what Earnhardt did and what Petty did, but I know that the times are changing and we need to stay current with it.  I’m hopeful that it’s not as extreme as they’re talking about.”

Track tidbits

Most victories – 10, by Richard Petty

Most poles – 12, by Cale Yarborough

Most top-fives – 28, by Richard Petty

Most lead changes – 59, in 1974

Fewest lead changes – 2, twice (latest in 1970)

Most leaders – 18, in 2006

Most cautions – 12, in 1989

Fewest cautions – 0, seven times (most recently in 1962)

Fewest on lead lap – 1, eight times (most recently in 1976)

Most wins by a manufacturer – 38, by Chevrolet

Closest margin of victory – .005 seconds, in 2007

Trivia answer

Tony Stewart also won from the pole in 2005.

Up next: The Lifelock 400

The Lifelock 400 will be another Saturday night race and held at Chicagoland Speedway.

Brian Vickers won the pole for last year’s race and Mark Martin won the race.

Current points leader Kevin Harvick is a two-time winner at Chicagoland, having won the first two races held at the track, which is located in Joliet, Ill.

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

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 3 2010
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