Bristol II: Pontiac Racing preview

Teams Beginning to Prep for New Fuel Cell Size at Talladega DETROIT, Mich., Aug. 20, 2002 - This weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway may the next stop on the Winston Cup Series schedule, but teams are already working several weeks ahead to...

Teams Beginning to Prep for New Fuel Cell Size at Talladega

DETROIT, Mich., Aug. 20, 2002 - This weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway may the next stop on the Winston Cup Series schedule, but teams are already working several weeks ahead to prepare for Talladega and the new fuel cell regulations that go with it.

For the upcoming 500-miler at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 6, NASCAR is reducing the size of the fuel cell to 20 by 17 by 9 3/4 inches. The current tank holds 22 gallons, while the new dimension will allow approximately 12.5 gallons. NASCAR informed its teams of the change on Aug. 10.

Teams are hoping the new fuel cell regulation will help break up the 43-car, three-wide draft that has defined restrictor-plate races for a number of years. While that draft pack produces exciting races for fans, it has been blamed for leading to high-speed, multi-car wrecks in a number of events at Daytona and Talladega.

Thoughts From Johnny Benson, No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac Grand Prix:

WHAT IMPACT DO YOU THINK THE SMALLER FUEL CELLS WILL HAVE ON THE RACE AT TALLADEGA? "I think it's a good step. I'm not sure it's going to solve everything, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. I'm sure it will break us up for a few laps after green-flag pit stops, but I just don't know that it will stay that way. With the aero package the way it is right now, you can catch back up pretty easy, so one pack of 10 cars should be able to catch another pack of 10 cars without a whole lot of trouble.

"We'll just have to wait and see. But, I'm glad they're trying something. Of course, we still want to put on a great race for the fans and the fans really like to see the big packs. We just need to find something that comes close to making everybody happy."

Thoughts From James Ince, Crew Chief, No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac Grand Prix:

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW RULE? "Our belief on our race team is that this is a good situation. Anytime we go to the superspeedway and we have to pit under green, it breaks the field up for a short period of time. I believe that what it's going to do is it's going to allow us to make our pit stops, our strategy and our driver be the things that determine our result at the end of the day there.

"I think for the last six or seven restrictor plate races we've been in the infield care center when it was over, so any change that they can make to break up the field is a good situation for us."

DO YOU FEEL IT'S GOOD TO TRY SOMETHING OTHER ANOTHER AERO ADJUSTMENT? "Absolutely. I am so glad that I don't have their job to try to figure out what to do at Daytona and Talladega because there is no good solution there. Until you knock the banking off the racetrack, you're going to have these problems.

"Bobby Allison was the first one to talk about this solution eight or 10 years ago and it was a good idea. If you go back and watch the races, any time we pit under green it kind of strings the field out. Now everybody will end up back in a bunch by the time we get ready to pit again. But, it should give us the opportunity again to use other things other than just doing what everybody else does and hoping that you're at the right place at the right time when it's over."

Thoughts From Jeff "Gooch" Patterson, Gasman, No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix:

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW RULE? "I'm excited about it, just for the fact that it kind of puts the gasman back in the game. I'm looking forward to it.

"The only thing I think that was done wrong is that it is still going to take both cans [of fuel] to get it full and you're going to end up with a lot of fuel on pit road. If the car is almost empty when it comes in, I'll use 11 gallons out of the first can and then will only use a maybe a gallon or two out of the second. There will be a lot of weight still in that second can, trying to pack it into that fuel cell. With that, you'll get a lot of overflow; you're going to have a lot more fuel on pit road, which could increase the chance for a fire.

"But like I said, I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited about it."

Thoughts From Ray Smith, Program Manager, Pontiac Racing:

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW RULE? "The intention is to try to spread out the field on a long, green-flag run so you don't have 40 guys running three feet apart. How well it works - we'll just have to see how it plays out.

"I think it's going to be interesting. They're trying to do something to get this big pack apart so we don't end up with 'the big one' every time we run a race on a superspeedway. I think it's going to be good, myself."

DO YOU THINK THE FIELD CAN STAY BROKEN APART FOR LONG PERIODS OR WILL IT JUST BE A MATTER OF A FEW LAPS BEFORE ALL 43 CARS DRAFT BACK TOGETHER? "I don't know about that. That's the biggest track we go to - 2.66 miles - and I'd like to see the car that's going to pull around and catch up to everybody that fast - especially doing it without much help. I think a three-car draft is going to be the key."

-pontiac

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Johnny Benson , Bobby Allison