Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Aric Almirola and Jimmie Johnson comment on ill handling race cars at Daytona
My take away from The Clash was ill handling race cars. Which is great! Fans could visually see drivers struggling to hold the cars into the race track.
With only 20 cars in the field, it was still a product of some wild racing. Cars were sliding every direction. 7-time champion Jimmie Johnson couldn’t hold the car straight. What’s going to happen with 40 cars on the track? The same.
Why would it be any different for the Daytona 500? Only, this time it’s going to be twice as frequent with the field of cars doubled.
A mandated front splitter, lack of a rear ride height and the new reverse skew have presented us with car characteristics that e haven’t seen before. On top of that, the pavement at Daytona is wearing out. All of these things lead to unknowns for the first and the biggest NASCAR race of the 2018 stock car racing season.
Kevin Harvick: “Things are going to happen a lot faster. They’re already happening quick, with the bigger spoiler and things,” Harvick says during Daytona Media Day.
“Then, you add the ill handling affect to a lot of the cars. They just become a lot harder to position yourself side by side, 3 wide.”
“I think that will get better because everyone will have a chance to work on their cars on Friday. But, the Daytona 500 is never like The Clash or the Qualifying races because of the amount of cars on the track, in my opinion.”
Kevin Harvick is already a Daytona 500 winner.
Kurt Busch: “This year, I think it’s the most unknown, heading into the 500, than in years past,” Kurt Busch states of Sunday’s NASCAR race.
Kurt Busch was the winner in the 2017 event. He won that race without a rearview mirror.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr: “Speaking of The Clash, ur car drove really well in it. Talking to some of the other drivers and really even sitting back and watching it. There were cars that were definitely a handful.
“I feel like, come late Sunday, if it’s hot and the sun’s out — Those long runs our car might be able to handle a little bit better than others and maybe have a little bit better of an advantage.”
“It’s going to be a huge balance of how much speed you want to take out versus the handling that you want.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr and the Ford camp are on fire at the plate tracks in recent years. With the oldest body in the field, it’s also the one with the least amount of downforce. At wide open tracks, that can be a good thing.
Aric Almirola: “I’ve had cars in the past that handle good but are slow. All you can do is hope to run 2nd cause you don’t have a good enough car to go lead. You’ve gotta have speed first. After you get speed in the car you can work on it and tune on it to see if you can get handling, without sacrificing speed. ”
Aric Almirola will make his debut for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018.
Jimmie Johnson: “There’s varying strategies on how to execute. I think the teams will just naturally get faster. But, the big thing that stood out to me is when you make an adjustment — How many seconds that adds.”
“The way the rules are written and how can actually make an adjustment on the car. It adds 3 seconds, at least. To turn a wedge bolt, put a spring rubber in or if you have to put packer in the front. It really does slow down the stops.”
“So, I think the drivers are going to be forced to compromise more and deal with ill handling cars. 3 second on pit road can be 8-10-12 spots. You just went from decent air and maybe a car that didn’t drive so well to a car that isn’t going to drive any better because you’re 10-12 spots back.”
“I put a lot of those decisions on Chad. That way I can just blame him later.”
So, not only are the cars expected to handle badly in the race, but you also might not want to try and fix it either. Jimmie Johnson is a 2 time Daytona 500 winner.
Tonight, the Daytona duels take the green flag. Can-Am Duel #1 takes the green at 7:00 PM et. Can-Am Duel #2 will begin at 8:30 pm. Each race will be a 60 lap, 150 mile race.
The Duels are important, they will again reward regular season points. The race winner will receive 10 points. In addition, the finish result sets the starting lineup for the Daytona 500 from 3rd-40th.
Though, I expect handling to be less of an issue tonight. It’s a night race and the track should have more grip as a result.
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