Competitors Applaud NASCAR for Change
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on March 12, 2014 | 4:45 P.M. EST
Matt Kenseth likes NASCAR's rule change to qualifying that prevents teams from running at reduced speeds to cool engines. (Photo: Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Matt Kenseth was among the competitors who applauded NASCAR for allowing teams to cool their engines on pit road instead on the track while running at reduced speeds.
NASCAR announced Tuesday that teams will be allowed to cool their engines on pit road by connecting through a hood flap instead of running around the track as had been done the last couple of weeks.
“It will be a lot less stressful,’’ Kenseth said Wednesday at an appearance at Martinsville Speedway. “It will be less confusing. All the cars on the race track are actually making at-speed laps and trying to improve their position and get to the next round.’’
Kenseth said by not having to worry about who is slow on the track cooling their engine, it will allow drivers to focus on “getting the best lap that you can possibly get and get it ready for the next round.’’
Clint Bowyer, who voiced concerns about the difference in speed between cars qualifying and those cooling engines, also was glad NASCAR changed the rule.
“We’re out there running 200 miles an hour and they’re running 40,’’ Bowyer said of cars cooling their engines. “They couldn’t get out of the way if they had to. Now that you can cool off, I can go out there and make several laps if I need to. I think it will enhance that entertainment even more.’’
Jeff Gordon called NASCAR’s decision a “great move” on Twitter.
Matt Puccia, crew chief for Greg Biffle, says cooling the engines on pit road will work well even without opening the hood.
“We have all the capabilities of plugging in,’’ he said. “You’re not going to be allowed to open the hood still, which is fine because there’s not a lot you could do underneath the hood without tools. But they are going to make you run hoses and have a quick disconnect over in one of the cowl flap doors, so you have to open the cowls up and hook your cool down up, and run a remote hose over to that cowl door to be able to hook up to it.”
Todd Gordon, crew chief for Joey Logano, said Team Penske was ready for any changes to the cooling that NASCAR would allow.
“I think in some way we felt that there needed to be a reaction to the cars coasting around the race track, just from a safety issue,’’ he said.
Sprint Cup teams will find out how the new system works Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. Along with the changes, NASCAR is allowing each team to have two crewmembers over the pit wall during the qualifying session instead of one.
Matt Kenseth’s wife, Katie, is due to give birth in about two weeks. It will be the couple’s third girl.
After racing at Bristol this weekend, NASCAR will run at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Kenseth said that if has to leave the track, Sam Hornish Jr., would drive his Nationwide car, and Jeff Burton would be available to drive his Cup car. Hornish is set to drive seven Nationwide races that Kyle Busch won’t run for Joe Gibbs Racing. Burton is running select Cup races for fellow Toyota team Michael Waltrip Racing.
Also, Paul Menard's wife, Jennifer, was due to give birth to the couple's first child earlier this week but had not as of Wednesday afternoon.