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No More Two-man Teams

NASCAR alters its rules in an effort to eliminate two-car team-ups on the superspeedways.

We’ve all seen some ridiculous things in racing, but few have been as weird as the two-man bobsled-style racing we have seen in the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Daytona and Talladega this year. Somewhere along the line, the drivers discovered that they could go faster by teaming up with another driver -- one in front, and the other in the caboose. They would run for a while in that manner, and as the potential for engine overheating in the pushing car grew, they would swap places.

As racing goes, it just seemed wrong on several counts. First, it looked absolutely ridiculous. Second, it motivated drivers who are supposed to be competitors to team up. And third, it superseded the restrictor-plate, pack-style racing on the superspeedways that has been such a crowd favorite. Of course, the thing that made it such a crowd favorite was the likelihood of multicar wrecks, but that’s another story.

Now NASCAR has instituted some rule-changes for Talladega and Daytona that we suspect will limit -- or perhaps eliminate -- the two-car team-ups. First, NASCAR has dictated an adjustment in the limits of the racecars’ cooling system pop-off valves, which will make it much more likely that the cars will overheat if they run in tandem. Additionally, NASCAR has mandated an alteration in the carburetor restrictor plates that will allow the cars to go faster. In combination with the pop-off valve change, the increased speeds will also make the two-car team-up style less advantageous.

To this we can only say, “We hope so.” Seeing drivers shuttle down the track in a small-scale daisy chain with a competitor was both ludicrous and unseemly. Not only that, but it was potentially dangerous as well: The driver in the rear car could see very little as he circulated the track, literally pushing another car forward. As is typical, NASCAR declined to say that the new rules were designed to banish the two-man bobsled-style racing at its most prestigious tracks. Instead, it issued this bland statement:

“After the last few superspeedway races, we’ve heard many drivers express their desire to open up the size of the restrictor plate some, and we thought the time was right to do that,” says Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president for competition. “We anticipate these revisions in the rules package for Talladega will help continue to provide competitive and exciting racing for the fans.”

We think they will too. So, NASCAR, when you’re right, why won’t you just admit it?