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NASCAR To Trim Down Plates

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, January 13 2011

The cars of Jeff Burton (31), Kurt Busch (2) and Trevor Bayne (21) took to the freshly repaved high banks at Daytona last month for a tire test with the old restrictor plates. Next week's test will be with new, smaller plates. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)


Racin’ Notes for Thursday, Jan. 13:

NASCAR reportedly will down-size restrictor plate holes for next week’s Sprint Cup Goodyear tire test at Daytona International Speedway.

The new size will be 29/32 of an inch. The old size was 30/32 of an inch.

The result will be less power and, presumably, slower speeds.

Pat Tryson, crew chief for the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing car of Martin Truex Jr. gave a thumbs up to the move.

“I think the decision was made to slow down the speeds because the speeds were too high at the first test,” Tryson said. “It’s a good move on the side of safety because no one wants to see a car go airborne at the potential speeds that could be generated with the plate they had last month. It will be better for the driver and better for the fans in the stands. Safety always comes first.”

The track surface at Daytona was repaved since last year’s summer race. In earlier tests, the new surface, which is smoother and stickier, produced higher speeds.

“By slowing down the cars,” Tryson said, “it will make the draft bigger and tighter. Before with a little more power, the cars would spread out a little bit. I think now, we can expect to see the cars a lot closer together and more in one pack versus two, three or four. It’s going to make for some great racing for sure because I expect to see more three, maybe four-wide racing at Daytona which is exactly what we saw at Talladega Superspeedway. It’s going to be a lot of fun for everyone to watch.”

JTG Daugherty Racing driver Bobby Labonte also commented on NASCAR’s decision to reduce the size of the restrictor plate for the upcoming three-day test session at Daytona International Speedway.

“When we tested during the Goodyear tire test at Daytona, I could see the speeds of two cars that got together being high,” said Bobby Labonte. “When you get to actually racing, things always go a little faster. I think making the restrictor plate smaller is a deal where NASCAR was foreseeing that speeds would be really high.”

Since Labonte tested on the newly paved surface last month during a Goodyear tire test, his No. 47 Toyota Camry team has opted not to test this month.

“With a smaller restrictor plate, I think it will be similar to what you see at Talladega,” Labonte said. “The handling affect will be gone. The throttle response will be a little less for us and it might be harder to complete the pass. Daytona has been historically a handling track the past 15 to 20 years that I’ve been down there. I think fans will see the race coming down to cars being bunched up in the right line, getting the right push from somebody, clearing the pass and blocking more like we see at Talladega. It’s hard to believe Daytona is just around the corner. I’m really looking forward to getting the season started with JTG Daugherty Racing.”

Michael Waltrip Racing owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman will start 22nd in class and 27th overall in Friday’s Dubai 24 Hour sports car race at the ultra-modern Dubai Autodrome. More than 80 cars from 30 countries made qualifying efforts on Thursday.

Waltrip and Kauffman along with co-drivers Rui Aguas and Matt Griffin will pilot the Ferrari F430 GT2 of the AF Corse team in the sixth annual event that marks the first international motor race of the 2011 season.

Waltrip said there many differences between his sports car and a NASCAR Sprint Cup car.

“We had to get through qualifying today without our power steering,” said Waltrip. “This Ferrari is a little bit different than a Cup car. When the power steering goes out in a Cup car you can kind of manhandle it. In this car it’s really a handful. They’ll get the power steering sorted out and we’ll be good to go for the race.”

Kauffman said the starting spot isn’t indicative of how fast the team expects to be during the race.

“In a 24-hour race the qualifying position is a little less important, but you have to be there at the end,” Kauffman said. “So that’s our strategy. The car is fast the crew is fast so I think we have a real chance.”

Waltrip and Kauffman raced in Dubai last year and in Belgium where they scored an impressive third-place finish on the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit. The 3.5-mile track at the Dubai Autodrome is one of the most modern in the world with a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners.

MWR executive Calvin Wells III said the team’s participation in international racing events is part of a worldwide business strategy. In the last year, MWR’s international effort has included visits to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, Toyota Motorsports Festival in Japan as well as races and tests in Dubai, Belgium and Portugal.

“It’s important for MWR to have our owners promote our company on a global stage. Michael is the two-time Daytona 500 champion, and Rob is an accomplished sports car racer in his own right,” said Wells, MWR’s vice president and chief operating officer.

“Everything we’ve done internationally in the last year, from Goodwood to racing in Belgium and Dubai, is about raising the awareness of Michael Waltrip Racing on the international level. The world is changing and our sport is changing. We are seeking fans and sponsors globally. We believe there is a lot of interest in NASCAR around the world, and we believe taking our owners to those audiences will soon pay dividends.”

The 24-hour race will start on Friday at 2 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET). Race fans can track Waltrip’s progress during the Dubai weekend on his Twitter account @mw55. Also watch Waltrip’s video updates from Dubai at: http://tinyurl.com/4dwkbjt

(This notes package will be updated as news develops today)

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, January 13 2011
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Andy D says:

    I wish NASCAR would just go to a 5 liter (302CID) engine. We’re all downsizing and the big motor doesn’t make since in anything but pickups and Corvettes.

    Restrictor plate races are dull, and a smaller engine will keep the speed down enough that they wouldn’t have to run them. I’d even be happy if they took it all the way down to 283/289/273 cubic inches.
    A V6 makes more sense from in today’s sales environment but I can understand that the fans want to hear the V8 roar.