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Ride along with former Winston Cup champion Rusty Wallace as he gives CNN/SI a crash-course on NASCAR racing. Rusty's Know-How tips appear each week on CNN/SI.com.
Duct tape: NASCAR's do-it-all cure-all
Two-hundred-mile-per-hour tape didn't get its name for nothing. We probably use more of this stuff than tires. Seriously, whatever the problem in racing, duct tape will fix it.
The main use we have for tape is on the front grill section of the car. The grill opening is a set size, dictated by the street version of the car and NASCAR. So the only way we can control the amount of air that comes into the engine is with tape. And I don't mean just slapping some on. This is an exact science -- down to the sixteenth-inch.
Adding tape will make the engine run hotter, which is good when your car isn't building up enough heat and making as much power as it should. More tape also causes the front end of the car to stick to the race track better, so you can use it to adjust handling.
When teams go to qualify, they make what's called a blocked-off run -- covering the front grill and all brake ducts with tape. That keeps air from getting in and slowing down the car. Race engines couldn't stand this, but qualifying engines are built to last only a few laps, so they can handle the extreme heat that builds up.
6. See? I told you this stuff was used for everything. I just hope I never have to use it on the side of my car as a number like Mark Martin did a few years ago ...
Hey, who did that?
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