NASCAR tried slowing the cars down in final Talladega Superspeedway practice; They went faster instead
This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, teams are running the first superspeedway race in several decades without a restrictor plate.
Now, that doesn’t mean the cars are rolling at 250mph. Instead, they’ve added a 0.922-inch tapered spacer on the engine. Essentially, it’s just a different kind of restrictor plate.
There’s several other new items as well for 2019. At the start of the year, an 8 inch rear spoiler was announced. They also added a tapered radiator pan, larger front splitter and aero ducts.
None of the above were run at Daytona earlier this year. That race was run under the 2018 rules package.
Following the Daytona 500, NASCAR hosted a test session with the new rules package this is making it’s debut this weekend at Talladega. Series officials thought the cars were going too fast. They reacted by making the superspeedway rear spoiler 9 inches tall instead of 8 in an attempt to slow the cars down.
NASCAR adds wicker spoiler after first practice at Talladega Superspeedway
The first practice session with the new 9 inch spoiler and other items got underway on Friday afteroon. Kurt Busch was quickest with a 47.249 and an average speed of 202.671.
For comparison, Rusty Wallace holds the overall track record at the track. In a closed test session on June 10, 2004, he ran around the track by himself without a restrictor plate attached. His average speed that day was 216.309 mph.
Back on April 30 1987, Bill Elliott set the track qualifying record at 212.809 mph. That was done without a restrictor plate. The next year, restrictor plates were introduced to the sport.
Scott Miller and Jay Fabian walked to garage area to collect feedback on the opening round of practice.
After that opening round, NASCAR decided that 202.671 was too fast. They reacted by adding a 1 inch wicker spoiler to the cars.
The wicker adds another inch across the spoiler. However, it doesn’t make it an inch taller. The NASCAR wicker spoiler addition sits perpendicular and acts as an air scoop of sorts.
This addition was put in place ahead of final practice to slow the cars down. However, the cars went quicker.
Ryan Newman was quickest in final practice with a 46.905 and an average speed of 204.157.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will return to the track later this afternoon for qualifying.
NASCAR slowing cars down
It’s not uncommon for NASCAR to slow the cars down in the middle of a race weekend. This happens every few years at the superspeedway races as the teams constantly improve the cars and come back a little quicker.
The last time this happened, Jamie McMurray barrel rolled his machine in a practice session. NASCAR reacted by changing the size of the restrictor plate holes to slow the cars down.
Actually, that was at this very race last year. In that case NASCAR reduced the restrictor plates from 7/8 of an inch to 55/64th of an inch.
In years past, restrictor plate tracks would see a stock of several size restrictor plates. It gave NASCAR options to go up or down when they needed to slow the cars down.
It’s unclear if a similar thing is an option with the new tapered spacer.
Related: NASCAR updates Talladega rules ahead of qualifying (April 2018)
First practice: photos
The photos below highlight the changes made between the practice sessions.
The first photo set of the Daniel Suarez #41 and Denny Hamlin #11 machines shows the rear of the spoiler without the wicker. This is the way the cars were run for the first session.
Final practice: photos
After the rules adjustment, the teams went to work. Jay Fabian walked around the garage area to give direction to the teams when needed. They built new spoilers with the wicker addition.
This next photo set highlights the changes made after the first practice and ahead of the final practice.
Talladega first practice results
Talladega final practice results
NASCAR TV schedule for Talladega