Were you one of the fans hoping to see an end of restrictor plate racing at Daytona and Talladega?
NASCAR announced on Tuesday that the sport will race without restictor plates at Daytona and Talladega for the first time in 32 years. A smaller tapered spacer and additional downforce will now be used to slow down the cars at those Super Speedways.
The Daytona 500 will use the 2018 package before the new 2019 rules go in effect for the April 28 event at Talladega. Currently restrictor-plate engines make an estimated 410 horsepower and while the new rules change allows that target to move to 500, it is offset by the new rules package being emposed.
“We wanted to keep the Daytona 500 as-is,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “There was a lot of engine inventory already out there. Teams had already begun preparing for the 500, so we wanted to hold the line there for 2019. And then as we started the season again from a superspeedway standpoint at Talladega, going to that 550 (horsepower) tapered spacer, we think will produce exactly what we’ve seen in the past, the side-by-side racing that fans love. So certainly we’ll learn some things along the way, but believe you’ll see very similar styles of racing at those tracks.”
Restrictor plates followed the may 1987 event at Talladega where Bill Elliott set a record 212.809 speed during qualifying. The event also saw Bobby Allison crash into the catch-fence.
The rules change may be considered window dressing for NASCAR by fans wanting noticeable changes to the current plate tracks.
“I think in terms of the racing and speeds, they’ll be very similar,” O’Donnell said of the contrast between the 2019 rules package and the current restrictor-plate setup. “We’ve got the ability obviously to dial that up or down as necessary, but we’ll certainly keep an eye on that as we roll out in practice as we always do, but to have the ability to make some tweaks if we needed to once that race weekend starts.”