Monday, February 14, 2011
206 MPH ???
The Bud Shootout was held at Daytone this past Saturday evening. The opening event of the 2011 season, it was a non-points race.
The race was historic. Not for the action that took place, although there was plenty. Not for the number of lead changes, although that did set a record for the event. It was historice because of the SPEED!
The combination of aerodynamics, new pavement, and rules changes created a situation that had not been seen before. Two cars, riding together nose to tail, bumpers constantly rubbing, created a mass that was, at times, 25mph faster than a single car. Almost the entire field paired up and rode the 75 laps of the event as welded pairs. Anyone trying to go it alone, or in a group larger than 2 cars, sank to the back like they had a parachute AND an anchor attached.
New pavement at Daytona has given the racers a surface that is free of bumps, allowing them to ride like this for lap after lap without much fear of causing a crash.
The top speeds seen in this configuraiton were over 206MPH. Compare this with the single car Daytone 500 pole winning one lap speed of 186mph (registered by Dale Earnhardt Jr.).
Consistent 200 mph laps have not been seen in NASCAR since the late 1980s, when a horrific accident involving Bobbie Allison at Talladega getting airborne tore down the crowd protecting fence and sent debris into the crowd. After that incident, NASCAR instituted a lot of rules changes to slow the cars down, for safety reasons.
NASCAR will act this week to slow these cars down. Technical rules changes will be made to cut the top speeds back down to the 190mph area. Although seeing these speeds is a rush, and fun for the drivers, these cars get airborne far too easy when they get that fast.
Update - Well, no one got airborne during the race, except for 20 year old Trevor Bayne. A day after his 20th birthday, and in his second ever Cup Series start, he drove the #21 Wood Brothers FORD (YES ... FORD) to victory.
Lots of wrecks took out quite a few of the favorites, but this win was no fluke. He had run strong all week, the car was great, and he was up front most of the race.
Rules changes dropped the speeds to around 199-200mph - still far faster than racing at that track in over 20 years.