Two-Car Drafting at Daytona? – Get Used To It

Rusty NormanI know I’m not the first to say this this week, but as a fan, I do have add my two cents to the conversation like most of the rest of you. If you’re one of those fans that wants NASCAR to stay the way it was, you’re going to have to make an adjustment to your attitude or you’re just not going to be happy at all, especially this weekend.

In fact, I’ll go one step further than many… If you’re one of those that wants NASCAR to not make any more changes to the rules or the cars, you might as well find yourself a new sport because I just don’t think NASCAR is going to be something you want to watch anymore. I’m not trying to be mean or anything like that, it’s just that change is inevitable and fortunately for us fans, NASCAR doesn’t make changes just to be making changes and they don’t make changes knee-jerk style. When they do make changes, they make them to make the sport better or safer for all involved.

Personally, I was one of the first to have more than a few negative thoughts about this “two car tango” as they call it. I really wasn’t a fan of it at Talladega and I wasn’t so sure it was going to make racing at Daytona anything more than boring. Well, I don’t know how you feel about it, but, I do think my opinion has changed. It’s added a whole new element to restrictor plate racing. I never expected them to be able to push for so many laps. That in itself made it interesting and opened up a whole new can of worms. (By the way did you notice Michael Waltrip ran a lap of over 206 mph?) NASCAR did… (and they made changes by Monday)

Now I challenge you… Go ahead and think back to the Shootout for a minute. Admittedly, is wasn’t really all that interesting to begin with from this fans view and I think that can be attributed to the fact that the drivers were just really beginning to figure it out and who they trusted to run with. Once they did, the speeds picked up and the racing got better with every lap. Practice times showed even more improvement and then the Duels on Thursday showed what, in this fan’s opinion, was going to be the way the drivers had adjusted to the new way of racing at Daytona and it proved to be a very interesting afternoon.

There were just a few things I noticed and I’m sure others did, too.

  • First, the two car draft is not a choice anymore, it is a necessity; that is, if a driver wants to have any chance at all at being in contention.
  • Second, it doesn’t appear (at least at this time) they can lay back in the pack and wait until the end of the race to move to the front. This may be a good thing. My present opinion is it is going to make the race more exciting for the fans and more stressful for the drivers.
  • Third, it should prove to be interesting what happens on pit stops and if someone loses their drafting partner.

Now, not everything is positive for this new way of getting around the track at Daytona this year. One thing I noticed about the two car draft concerns the way they align themselves and the stability of the cars. When they are running at top speeds and the pushing car needs to breathe the radiator they move out to the right. That seems to work fine, but if the pushing car moves to far to the left, from my view it appears the front car loses traction on the left rear and becomes very loose. If they don’t catch it… well you know what that means.

In this fan’s opinion, I think this is going to be one of the most interesting restrictor plate races at Daytona in a long time. I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen with forty-three cars on the track doing the two car thing (and while were at it, doesn’t forty-three mean that someone is the odd man out right from the beginning?? That should prove to be interesting right form the get go.)

One other thing before I go. I think the intensity is going to be high throughout the race and the drivers are going to be more mentally stressed than ever in one of these restrictor plate races. They may be a bit physically tired when the racing’s done but mentally, they’re gonna be drained.

And one last thing, the Big One is very, very possible and I’m of the opinion there may be more than one. I do know this… this Daytona 500 is destined to be historic and I’m going to be watching every minute of it because I don’t want to miss anything… (Sure hope my Tivo can handle the pressure…)

Will this two car tango thing last? I’m not sure… as the track surface ages over the coming months and years, we may get back to the way things used to be, (but I doubt it.) For now, I’ll just say this… the two car draft at Daytona? Get used to it!!

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© February 19, 2011 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and

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