Reaction Mixed to Rule Change

Rule change earns mixed reaction Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 18, 1998) The laws of physics tell us that: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." And NASCAR's action Tuesday, which reduced...

Rule change earns mixed reaction Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 18, 1998) The laws of physics tell us that: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

And NASCAR's action Tuesday, which reduced the width of the rear spoiler of the Ford Tauruses in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series by two inches, certainly has drawn its share of reaction from drivers, car owners and crew chiefs.

The width of the rear spoiler on both the Ford Taurus and the Ford Thunderbird will be narrowed by two inches from 57 to 55 heading into this weekend's TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway. The modification is a result of a wind tunnel test done in Marietta, Ga., last week. While Fords have dominated the last two NASCAR Winston Cup Series events, Chevrolet and Pontiac have each scored a victories this season. At Las Vegas, Ford Tauruses took the top seven positions and 13 of the top 15. At Atlanta, eight Fords finished in the top-10. But as one car owner says, opinions of what is fair often depend on which side of the manufacturers fence you are on.

"NASCAR has gotta control the manufacturer deal and they feel it's still one-sided, so they're adjusting," said Robert Yates, owner of both the No. 28 and No. 88 Ford Tauruses. "I guess when (NASCAR) looks out the window someday and sees where they think it's fair, then they'll stop. Right now you've got some very good, focused Ford teams and, in some cases, a little bit of disarray among some GM teams, and they need some help. People say it's always the Fords, but I worked on the GM side and I always felt like it was the other way."

Following the March 1 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the rear spoiler height on the Fords was reduced from five inches to 4.75 inches. In the next race, the PRIMESTAR 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, two Pontiacs, including winner Bobby Labonte, were among the top-10 finishers. No Chevrolets finished in the top-10 at Atlanta

Ted Musgrave, driver of the No. 16 PRIMESTAR Taurus, said the change is one that can definitely be felt by the drivers.

"When we cut the spoiler and air dam after the rule change (prior to Atlanta) was announced, you could tell," Musgrave said. "There was a definite difference. They keep saying, 'Well, it won't affect much.' But it will, especially when you get in traffic now."

Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 10 Tide Ford Taurus, is certainly not a proponent of the new rule, but he isn't complaining much about it, either.

"Certainly they're (NASCAR) not cutting on the Fords just to be picking on them," Rudd said. "I'm certain that maybe they must have seen something that the Ford had more than the other cars had."

"I don't think they're just targeting us, they're just trying to keep from having 10 cars from the same manufacturer in the top 10," Yates said. "There's just a lot of good Ford teams ... It (the rule modification) doesn't make us happy, but season-long it's the thing to do -- adjust quickly and don't make a guy suffer too long. But they need to come back the other way just as quick, if they go too far. This is certainly not what you love to hear, but it's necessary. We'll just keep working hard because we've got two good teams here, but I think we're getting hit because there are a lot of good Ford teams."

On the opposite side of the fence, in the Chevrolet camp, the rule change got mixed reviews as well.

"I don't know what to think yet, but I hope it'll help us some," said Larry McClure, owner of the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet driven by Bobby Hamilton. "I don't know if it'll be enough. When we get around the Fords, our cars move around a lot on the track. I don't know why. I don't know if it's the high nose or the big spoiler they're (the Fords) are sporting."

"I'd like to think, if they keep chopping and cutting, it's going to help," said Larry McReynolds, crew chief of the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt. "But my gut tells me this is not. I'm not sure they're going to fix it with the spoiler. With the greenhouse they've got, I'm not sure you're going to fix it with a quarter-inch here and an inch there. I don't have the answer for them (NASCAR), and I don't envy them with their position in trying to come up with the answer."

As far as the racing itself at Darlington, one of the tougher race tracks on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, Ford drivers say that they'll just have to find out what the rule change will bring to their Tauruses.

"Hopefully this won't be that big of a deal since we have already run Atlanta with four-and-three-quarters inch (rear) spoiler," said Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 12 Mobil 1 Taurus. "It's just another change on our car. With this Taurus being new and this being a new body configuration to mess with, maybe having us do all the changing right now is the right direction to go. It's just that there's been a lot of changing in a short period of time and now we go to Darlington re-figuring what we had already figured."

Those in the Chevrolet circles are also anxious to see what will happen at Darlington this weekend.

"It will certainly be interesting to see how the Fords will be affected after the latest rule change," said Andy Petree, owner and crew chief for the No. 33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet. " I think NASCAR is moving in the right direction and it will help even up the field, but I don't think the change is going to be substantial enough."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bobby Labonte , Ted Musgrave , Andy Petree , Robert Yates