DETROIT, April 18, 2001 - Restrictor plate racing is known for its excitement and its unpredictability. It is that element of surprise that makes "plate" races the most popular among many fans and most nerve-wracking for most competitors. This...
DETROIT, April 18, 2001 - Restrictor plate racing is known for its excitement and its unpredictability. It is that element of surprise that makes "plate" races the most popular among many fans and most nerve-wracking for most competitors.
This weekend's stop at Talladega Superspeedway promises more of the same, but its outcome could be a bit more predictable based on last month's announcement of new aerodynamic rules for Ford and Dodge teams at the 2.66 mile high-banked tri-oval.
Doug Duchardt, NASCAR Group Manager for GM Racing, expects the impact of those new rules to be evident early on this weekend, and is hoping Pontiac and Chevrolet teams can overcome them before the end of Sunday's 500-mile race.
Pontiac's "Wide Track Attack" - which produced more wins per car fielded in 2000 than anyone else in NASCAR - is hoping to score its first win of 2001 this weekend.
Thoughts From Doug Duchardt, NASCAR Group Manager for GM Racing:
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT THIS WEEKEND WITH THE NEW RULES IN PLACE?
"In qualifying, I think we'll see more Fords and Dodges toward the front and more Pontiacs and Chevys toward the back. In the race, it is somewhat of an unknown."
HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO PEOPLE WHO DRAW CONCLUSIONS FROM THE FINISHING ORDER OF THE DAYTONA 500?
"We never really saw who all had strong cars in Daytona because some top cars ran a strategy of not racing hard until the last 30 laps or so, and then many of those cars were involved in the 'big wreck' on the backstretch. For instance, we never saw how good Dale Jarrett's car really was. "I think we'll see some of the same strategies this weekend. We'll see some of the top cars laying back and not messing around with the lead draft until they think it is time to go."
PONTIAC HAS YET TO WIN THIS YEAR THROUGH THE FIRST EIGHT RACES, BUT HASN'T COMPLAINED MUCH YET ABOUT RULES...ANY REASON?
"Outside of the restrictor plate tracks, we haven't had any aerodynamic rule changes since last year, when the Pontiacs were very competitive, as were the Fords. So I think the Pontiac teams are taking the attitude that they've got the hardware to be competitive, and they just need to keep working to get the most out of it. "We started off the year with Chevy winning the first four races and Ford in a constant campaign to try to get help from NASCAR. After the fourth race we all went to the wind tunnel and learned that Ford had an aero advantage when tested in a 'racing attitude' configuration, which is a new configuration that NASCAR is using because it's a better 'real world' performance comparison. "That advantage has shown up over the last four races, which have all been won by Ford. So, in hindsight, Ford asking for help should never have been taken seriously by anyone."
WILL YOU CONSIDER CHANGING YOUR TACTICS BY COMPLAINING MORE TO MAKE SURE YOU GET WHAT YOU WANT?
"We were accused of whining last year with both the Grand Prix and Monte Carlo. We felt we had the wind tunnel results to back up our concerns. The difference this year is that there has been a campaign by our competitor (Ford) to get help without any engineering data to support their case. Thankfully, NASCAR didn't pull the trigger on a change to the Ford because it would have looked pretty silly the way the '88' is performing."
WERE YOU ABLE TO LEARN ANYTHING ABOUT FUTURE GM DESIGNS FOR THE WINSTON CUP SERIES AFTER SEEING WHAT DODGE INTRODUCED AT DAYTONA?
"NASCAR dictates the process each time you go to get a new car approved. There isn't one process that has been applied to everyone yet. Whenever the new Pontiac Grand Prix comes up for its 'makeover,' I'm sure our process will be slightly different. Once you're given the process you do the best you can within it. "Dodge did that and came out with a car that is very good at restrictor plate tracks and is still competitive at the other tracks, based on the Atlanta wind-tunnel test."