CORNELIUS, N.C. — The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series holds its final restrictor-plate race of the season Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Last month, NASCAR introduced rule changes to reduce two-car drafting common in the three previous plate races in 2012. Under the new rules, restrictor plates will have larger openings and a recalibrated pressure-relief value. How the new rules will impact the race is unknown, but drivers and their spotters know that radio communication will continue to be a key to a strong finish. No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Martin Truex Jr. and his spotter Keith Barnwell share their views of the upcoming race.
Martin Truex Jr. On The New Rules: “My spotter Keith Barnwell’s job is pretty intense at the restrictor-plate tracks. I think all of us know what to expect now with the two-car drafts. With the new rules, I expect to see more lead changes and we aren’t going to be able to push for quite as long. You’re going to see a lot more coming and going so Keith’s going to be on his toes. It’s going to be a big shuffle going back and forth so Keith is going to be extremely busy because there is going to be a lot of cars moving around and shuffling for him to look at. We also can’t forget that Talladega can easily get four-to-five wide pretty comfortably, but I think they’ll be some speed differences because we are going to have to switch a lot because of the cooling.”
Truex on Working With Other Team Spotters: “There are times when I lose Keith because I have to switch over to another driver’s channel. I know he hates it, but I really don’t mind having to work with another spotter. I am just glad to be able to hear someone and get direction because when you are pushing someone, you cannot see a thing. That’s the toughest part.”
NAPA Spotter Keith Barnwell On Rule Changes and His Role: “I honestly think the only thing that will change is now we will see more two-by-two drafts and they are going to run faster. You are not going to visibly see a difference, but I’m going to be able to see it on the stopwatch. The closure rate is going to be faster. The cars are going to run faster and they are going to draft faster. I’m going to be busy that’s for sure and I hope we can stay up front as long as we can. I think that will be the best place to be and I hope Martin has the best partner to improve his chances. Daytona was a good example of that. If we could have stayed with Trevor Bayne, we would have been first or second. If things shake out in the end where we have to partner with a car that we don’t run as good with, our day is done. We’re looking at a 20th-place finish. It’s going to be key for me to help him get to the front, but staying there is a whole different animal. Staying up front will be the key.”