NASCAR officials detail findings from Newman's Daytona crash, preview Talladega changes
NASCAR representatives released additional results from Ryan Newman's crash in the final lap of the Daytona 500 for the season opening on Monday. Previously announced changes to the rules to improve safety and competition on super speedways should limit the engine power by an additional 35-40 hp.
The details came from a briefing on Monday with John Probst, Senior Vice President for Innovation and Racing Development at NASCAR, and John Patalak, Senior Director of Safety Technology at NASCAR, who previewed the changes before the GEICO 500 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET , FOX, MRN, SiriusXM) at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR announced on May 1 updates to the rules for superspeedway events that introduced safety improvements through two roll bars and competition changes to slow vehicles, including removing air ducts and reducing the size of the throttle body. The rules apply to the remaining Cup Series races this season at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway.
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Officials said many of the changes were due to NASCAR's investigation into the fall in the final round of the Daytona 500 in February. This incident, which occurred at the end of a tumultuous season opener, resulted in serious injuries for Newman, who was hospitalized after being removed from his No. 6 Ford Roush Fenway Racing. A NASCAR spokesman said a full debriefing with Newman and his Roush Fenway Racing team had not taken place due to COVID 19 restrictions.
"Of course, I think if, as I said, we ride super speedways in every race we do, what we do is inherently dangerous," said Patalak. "It would be quite difficult to stop a wreck. I would say that slowing down the cars should and would certainly help from the aero takeoff standpoint. I would say our findings from Ryan Newman's crash, his launch was not due to an aero event, but that he got stuck in the wall. The idea there is to reduce the speed of the car and slow it down. We would expect speeds below the 200 mile mark here. From this point of view, which slows down the cars, you shouldn't have violent wrecks.
“As I said, I mean if the checkered flag goes out for the Daytona 500, one of our races, the likelihood of accidents is high. I think the changes you see here that we have proposed are meant to ensure that once such a chain of events is started, we should have all the security mechanisms to mitigate the outcome and the negative results, I should say. ”
Superspeedway races have become accidental races in recent years. The final rate and momentum for challenging cars with an aerodynamic boost became too big for leading cars to easily curb those movements and keep the lead. The NASCAR competition team switched from boundary plates to tapered spacers before last season to reduce performance on the sport's largest ovals.
The changes announced in May are expected to reduce output from 550 on several routes to around 510 hp for Daytona and Talladega. Probst said the changes would likely increase lap times in Talladega by more than a second. For reference, Denny Hamlin led the opening practice on the 2.66 mile course in Alabama last October at 46.734 seconds and a speed of 204.904 mph. Adding a second to this clock would reach a lap speed of 200.612 mph.
"I cannot say that 200 (mph) is a magic number," said Probst. “… We had races in which we exceed that. Certainly, in practice, especially in Talladega, it seems that they are able to form a single line without having to worry about protecting positions. The speed can sometimes be higher than in the race. But when we get up in this range of 205, 206, 207, you generally see us looking for ways to slow the cars down. "
Officials said an evolution of security changes over the years had prevented Newman from being more seriously injured when his car crashed into Corey LaJoie's outer retaining wall and Ford # 32. When the Gen 6 car debuted in 2013, NASCAR added additional roll bars, a laminate windshield, and a new window mesh mounting structure. Seat belt improvements were introduced two years later, and an improved vehicle chassis made its debut on Superspeedways in 2016 before it was fully deployed the following year. "When you really look at the two vehicles, how they interact, how heavy they are and how they align, these few things are really high points for the result we had," said Patalak.
Patalak and Probst stated that the May 1 changes were also intended to reduce the frequency of tandem throws, although they admitted that engineers and crew chiefs would likely try to balance the effects to gain a competitive advantage. "I've been doing this long enough to know that I'm not going to make bold, general statements that would challenge them to prove otherwise," said Patalak. "I think with the reduction in performance and the elimination of the aero channels, the hole becomes smaller if you will, and it should be much more difficult to get into this configuration."
The officials also said that adding tape to the rear bumper cover on Superspeedways would reduce friction during bumping and reduce the likelihood of the lead car being hooked or turned when bumpers make contact. "We're trying to hit the car's rear bumper like ice," said Probst, "where they slide over, don't get in touch and start to sway the front car from left to right, if you like."
In another change, which was adjusted by Newman after the accident, NASCAR required a check valve for the oil tank or overflow expansion tank to reduce fluid loss if a vehicle tips over in an accident.
The drivers' first test run for the new Superspeedway package will take place on Sunday in the 500-mile run after NASCAR officials announced last weekend that the Cup series would drive without a planned training session. The series has held eight races since it returned to action after the COVID 19 outbreak.
"We discussed this with the teams that we originally protected in our schedule," said Probst. “When I work through the changes with our teams, I would say that we are now at the point with most of the simulation, that when we list them, these changes seem a lot to the teams, but they add a lot of power and drag -Type things. After working with them, we don't currently feel that we need to add a practice period to the Talladega schedule. "
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Hamlin, a Sunday winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway, said he had little concern that the field could quickly adapt to the new rule configuration without a shakedown.
"I will know in the first few laps how big the runs are, what gap I have to have to the person behind me to give me the run forward," said Hamlin, who won the Daytona 500 for the first time Three wins so far this season. "I'll know what to do with the package fairly quickly. I think we probably have a pretty good idea of it anyway. ... These drivers are so good that they'll find out fairly quickly. I wouldn't expect anything extraordinary."
Ryan Blaney finished second in Daytona after Hamlin and was involved in the final lap contact with Newman's car. The Team Penske driver is also Talladega's youngest winner after beating Newman in a duel against Fender last October.
After Daytona's chaotic end of the year started, Blaney said drivers were discussing the proposed changes with competition officials to make the difference in closing rates less drastic.
“The runs were gigantic. We are excited about what made your runs even bigger, ”said Blaney after the third Sunday. "I hope the barrels are not that big. There's a fine line. You need the design to work where you drive cars, but you don't need monstrous designs that are dangerous to block them and things like that Hopefully we'll find a fair in between. ”
"I'm looking forward to it. I know that NASCAR has done their research, hopefully to find a good balance between them."
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