After six weeks of short- and intermediate-track races, the Cup Series heads to the largest track on its schedule -- Talladega Superspeedway.
There have been some exciting races recently at the 2.66-mile track, but there is a bit of an unknown coming into this weekend. At Daytona, the other restrictor-plate track, two-car drafts were where the speed was. Gone were the large packs of racing, replaced by two cars getting together and darting to the front -- until they had to swap places due to the rear car overheating.
It was new and interesting, to say the least. But does NASCAR need to make changes in hopes the two-car draft doesn't happen at 'Dega? Bill Kimm and Mark Aumann have their opinions: should NASCAR try to end the two -car draft?
Yes (Bill Kimm)
Quick ... aside from Trevor Bayne winning, what do you remember from the Daytona 500? I'll give you time ... what's the first thing that comes to mind?
The only thing that comes to my mind is the ridiculous two-car drafts that nearly ruined the Great American Race. These two-car drafts aren't NASCAR ... heck, they barely count as actual racing.
Seeing two cars -- not even teammates most of the time -- partner up and perform some on-track samba a la a retired sports star and Cheryl Burke on Dancing With The Stars is not only difficult to watch, it's not entertaining.
Where's the competition? Where's the racing?
The current mentality at Daytona and Talladega is survive until the final 20 laps and then go for the win. If that's the case, let's save everyone some time and just make those races 25 laps -- then we can cut out all the mindless driving in circles.
It's becoming so bad, drivers are actually talking to rival drivers on the radio ... DURING THE RACE. Why? So they can work on their two-car tango together. Something tells me even if the technology was there, Richard Petty and David Pearson wouldn't be racing like this.
NASCAR, we have a problem.
It's time for the sanctioning body to step in and try to repair the racing at two of the more storied tracks on the circuit. So many small changes have been made, I'm not sure where to start. But Daytona and Talladega have so much history, so much pedigree, it's a shame to see these two tracks become what they are now -- boring.
No (Mark Aumann)
We first saw the genesis of the two-car bump draft once Talladega was repaved in 2006. But until this year's Daytona 500, it seemed to be more of an oddity than an actual race strategy. Now that pairs of cars circling the track at speed like mechanized love bugs appears to be the norm rather than the exception, what should NASCAR do about it?
For all of the sanctioning body's tinkering with the rulebook in an effort to make the racing as uniform as a military parade, this is finally a situation where a hands-off policy is the right call. Anyone remember what happened when NASCAR tried to regulate bump drafting at Talladega? Yeah, a single-car parade.
Allowing drivers to communicate via radio with their drafting partners and spotters is not only a good decision, but almost a necessity because of the limited visibility of the current chassis configuration. There's a reason why NASCAR won't let a car on the track without a spotter at Daytona and Talladega. And having two sets of eyes is an additional layer of safety.
Yes, we're used to seeing packs of 30 cars running side by side, lap after lap. And this whole two-car, push-me-pull-you racing is weird. But in this case, function outweighs form. And I'm guessing fans in 1960 were a little taken aback by the sight of Junior Johnson driving directly behind another car as he figured out the aerodynamic advantages of drafting.
As long as the track surfaces are smooth, NASCAR templates allow the noses and tails of the cars to line up perfectly and the engine temperatures don't reach the melting point, this is the evolution of superspeedway racing. Whether it's just a temporary solution or a permanent shift, I like NASCAR's decision to "let it ride."