Tanks For Nothing

The latest scheme to tame the wild and unruly beast known as Talladega Superspeedway will be unveiled for this weekend's EA Sports 500. And if you'll pardon the pun, it might be NASCAR's most fuelish decision yet.

The sanctioning body has mandated the Winston Cup teams use a smaller fuel cell this weekend. A 13 gallon cell has been implemented down from the normal 22 gallon tank. The thought process is that with the lighter fuel load, drivers will be forced to pit more often thus breaking up the packs of 25-30 cars that are the restrictor plate track norm at Talladega and Daytona.

Of course we want to get away from this exciting, four-wide, wheel-to-wheel racing for fear of "The Big One," that giant accident which has become an imminent part of restrictor plate racing.

NASCAR created this monster several years ago by introducing the plate in an effort to slow the cars down at the mammoth superspeedways in the name of safety. But the limited horsepower evened out the lineup so instead of the drafts featuring a pack of four or five fast cars, we were saddled with an entire field of pretty much equal cars (not counting Dale Earnhardt or the current DEI team naturally).

Aerodynamic rules including spoiler and air dam height, larger "greenhouses" or taller windshields and roofs don't seem to be the answer. You either get a single file parade like the one we saw at the Pepsi 400 two years ago or the 500 mile pace lap we've become accustomed to watching.

So now we get a plan to put the pressure on pit road and turn the albeit nail biting but incredibly exciting racing into a fuel mileage contest. So much for "White Knuckle Weekends" at Talladega, which might now be known as "Knuckleheaded Weekends" after this rule change.

A fuel mileage race isn't what fans want to see at a Winston Cup event. While pit strategy and calculation is an important element of every race, the rules shouldn't be turned to make that the focal point. Races should be won or lost on the track and not just in the pits.

Several drivers think this new rule will actually make thinngs even more dangerous. “I think what we’ve done for this weekend is move the high probability for accidents from on the track to getting onto pit road,” Dave Blaney said. “Two years ago at Talladega, I got tapped slowing down to get to pit-road and came down backwards at 150 mph. into the pit-wall in front of the No. 28 pit. We’ve just all got to be a little more careful with that end of the game this weekend.”

I don't have the answer to fix restrictor plate racing, short of bulldozing down the steep banking of Talladega and Daytona and knocking the steep turns down a few degrees. But from where I sit, which I admit is the safety of the press box, these races are the best of the season. Nerve racking? Yes. Dangerous? Isn't all of auto racing?

I think the answer still lies in the hands of the drivers. Patience and intelligence are the best weapons to avoid the massive wrecks. Lets hope that's the arsenal used to attack the Talladega monster on Sunday.

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2002

Next MRN Broadcast

On Air Now
Jan. 16, 2018 7:00 PM ET

Upcoming Cup Broadcasts

© 2018 MRN. All Rights Reserved

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

ISC Track Sites