News Is Not Good For Anti-Tandem Types
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Not a fan of the tandem racing that has dominated racing at NASCAR’s restrictor plate tracks in recent years? Then you’re probably not going to like what Dale Earnhardt Jr. said after Tuesday’s aero testing at Daytona International Speedway.
It seems pairs racing is going to be with us for a while.
“I will say… that NASCAR and the drivers are all in agreement that there is no way possible to get rid of the tandem drafting,” Earnhardt said.
Seven Sprint Cup teams and drivers spent Tuesday tinkering with everything from spoilers to suspension parts in an effort to find a solution to the type of two-car racing that many find to be objectionable at Daytona and Talladega.
About the best news that Earnhardt could offer was, “We’re better off than we were yesterday.
“We have tried smaller spoilers at half-inch increments down to a three-inch blade. We have went down a hundred or more pounds in the rear springs, and the cars drive and draft the same. They just go faster.”
The tandem racing is the result of the evolution of the Car of Tomorrow. The aerodynamics of the cars, and their bumper-matching design have made pairing up and then taking turns pushing, the best way
to get to the front of the fields.
NASCAR officials seem to be intent on reversing the tandem-racing trend.
Some teams and drivers hope NASCAR succeeds. Count Earnhardt among that group.
“The answer is in the past,” Earnhardt said. “The answer is in the history of the sport. I’ve heard people comment that, The tandem drafting was always there, it just took this long for people to figure this out. That’s not true. You couldn’t tandem draft in 1998 or in 2004. You bump-drafted, but when you went in the corner, you would spin somebody out if you stayed on their bumper.
“We have to get to that point, however that is. It’s going to be difficult with the surface of the racetrack being as grippy as it is. That’s not helping us at all. We got to figure out a way to take a little bit of grip out of the cars where it’s back in the drivers’ hands and the lead guy doesn’t want anybody pushing. That’s what you want to do.”
While no great strides were made at Daytona this week, Earnhardt said work must continue on the problem.
“I didn’t anticipate coming down here and finding the magical solution,” he said. “I just knew we needed to come down here, put in some work, figure out what we can while we’re here. This is an important thing to do. We also get an opportunity to work on our fuel injection. That’s all going really well.
“Like I said, we’ll be better off and smarter than we were before we got here today, and hopefully that helps us and gives us an opportunity going forward with NASCAR and their engineering staff to come up with a solution eventually.”
That solution would, ideally, result in a form of racing that resembles, well, racing.
“What we would like to do is make it possible to race without having to tandem draft the entire day,” Earnhardt said, “get back to where we’re having passing, racing amongst the leaders, guys jostling around, moving in and out of packs and lines, and then at the end if it comes down to a one- or two-lap tandem draft that wins the race, that would be expected by everyone here, NASCAR and the drivers as well.”
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