Work in Sports
Special restrictions placed for Dura Lube 300
By Marty Snider, CNNSI.com
NASCAR officials will announce Saturday that they will run 1-inch carburetor restrictor plates at next weekend's Duralube 300 Winston Cup race at the New Hampshire International Speedway.
Two drivers in the past four months have lost their lives in Turn 3 accidents at the speedway. The restrictor plates will cut approximately 250-300 horsepower from the engines, in turn slowing speeds down by 15-20 mph.
In July, Kenny Irwin was killed when his car slammed into the wall when he was entering the third turn.
In May, Adam Petty died of head trauma when his car apparently brushed the wall, spun out and then hit the wall at NHIS.
Restrictor plates have been used since 1988 to slow down Winston Cup and Busch Series cars at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. As a result, pole-winning speeds at the two tracks dropped from the 210-mph range to the 195-mph range. Further changes in the suspension slowed the cars down even further at these two tracks.
But Daytona and Talladega are high-banked tracks, while Loudon is nearly flat.
Loudon, a one-mile track, requires drivers to brake heavily entering the turns at each end of the track. A stuck throttle can cause the cars to slam into the wall at speeds over 150 mph.
"The restrictor plate isn't going to effect the way you bounce off the walls, but it will slow things down," said James Ince, who is crew chief for driver Johnny Benson. "It's definitely going to slow corner entry speeds at New Hampshire. If you are going 20 mph slower on entry you have a better opportunity if something does go wrong.
"I think this restrictor plate will be noticeably different than Talladega and Daytona. You have a downforce car at New Hampshire. You can't run a speedway car there. I'm not sure the fans will notice a difference but its going to be a big difference to the teams."
Last weekend, drivers called for the walls to be softened before they returned to race. Current points leader Bobby Labonte crashed at Darlington last weekend when his throttle became stuck. Labonte indicated that he did not have time to hit the engine kill switch, which is located right beside the steering wheel.
"We really are looking for something to happen," Rusty Wallace said of the return to New Hampshire. "I think that most every driver in this garage area will be totally blown away ... if we go back to New Hampshire and those walls aren't lined with that Styrofoam."
CNNSI.com's motorsports producer Ryan Smithson contributed to this report.