Nascar Racing

Restrictor Plate Racing At Daytona


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Well, it’s that time again… you know… Restrictor plates, high banks and pack racing at the Daytona International Speedway. Well, at least that’s what this fan would like to see; and of course, they’re running under the lights once again this weekend.

I have to admit, I liked the old days when no one thought about these things called restrictor plates. It was all about speed, horse power and handling at the high banks of Daytona along with a thing called drafting.

Now, things are completely different and yet very much the same. They still have to have maximum horse power (even with the restrictor plates), handling is probably more important than it ever was and they still run in packs and do the drafting thing. Of course, repaving the track hasn’t hurt performance at all at the Super Speedway.

Another thing I want to admit is that I don’t really like the two car tandem drafting and I am glad NASCAR made changes to the rules (at least on the Cup side) that has re-instated side-by-side, bumper-to-bumper pack racing two and three wide at around 200 miles per hour.

After watching the Nationwide race with the two car tandems Friday night, I was once again reminded just how much I’m glad we don’t see 400-500 miles of it anymore. Sure, it does still have its place and is still used by the drivers at times, but for the most part in the Cup series it is used sparingly. Although there are times when one of these races has its “humdrum” moments, for the most part, watching the best drivers in the world run bumper-to-bumper and door handle-to-door handle is much more exciting than the other alternatives.

I remember those Saturday nights at our local tracks when the cars were lined up just right and we would run lap after lap in a tight pack and no one could seem to get an advantage to pass. Those were some of the most exciting (and stressful) races I ever remember. In fact they are some of the races I remember the most. Yes, they may have been stressful and the adrenaline may have been flowing in overdrive but it was still a sight to behold.

Perhaps that is why I like watching the Cup cars do what they do at Daytona and Talladega so much, especially since they don’t run in those two car drafts that much anymore. There is just something about pack racing and this fan is glad it is back, at least in its present form.

The Fords and Toyotas looked really fast in practice and qualifying. In fact, when it came down to qualifying, I was beginning to wonder if there would be any Chevys in the top ten. Of course three Chevys did make it into the top ten but this fan was more impressed by the JGR and MWR Toyotas. Kyle Bush did take the pole with his team mate, Matt Kenseth joining him on the front row. Clint Bowyer qualified third and his team mate, Martin Truex Jr. qualified fifth. On any other weekend, that would speak pretty loudly of those four drivers and does make a statement for tonight’s race.

The problem as I see it is that this is a restrictor plate race and where a driver qualifies doesn’t necessarily translate into a trip to Victory Lane. From this fan’s view (and I know many others will agree with me), anyone can win as was proven at the last restrictor plate race at Talladega. If you ask the drivers they will say they want to qualify at or near the front but when they end up in the middle to the back of the pack, it doesn’t seem to bother them all that much. Of course it does affect where they end up in the pits and that may, (and I stress the word, may), affect track position when they do have to stop for fuel and tires.

One thing to keep in mind for tonight is this a summer night in Florida and the humidity is generally high along with the stress levels of the drivers. Their adrenaline will be flowing because of the tight racing and, though some may disagree, they will have to concentrate more in a restrictor plate race than in a regular one. One little slip in concentration could cause a major disaster for a bunch of cars from the resulting “Big One” and it could completely change the outcome of the race.

I don’t know about you, but from this fan’s view, a restrictor plate race is one I particularly like to watch from beginning to end. That doesn’t mean I don’t watch the others in the same way but it does mean if you walk away from a plate race for just a minute or two, when you get back, everything might have changed…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 6, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions

By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.