For the last week or so the NASCAR following have been up in arms about the announcement from Robin Pemberton followed by Brian France of the intent to reduce horsepower in the Sprint Cup Series. First of all, this website is primarily a photographic website focusing on racing in the Chicagoland area, however once in awhile the editorial side of me, just has to speak up. I always try to do it in a positive way to help our fans understand better what is happening in the sport we love. I don't profess to have any special engineering background or special access to the inner minds of the top echelon of NASCAR. I have attended a meeting where this horsepower reduction was discussed by a NASCAR official. A little history lesson is needed here. It wasn't to long ago that we marveled that the teams were running engines that had 650 horsepower. NASCAR started, on a regular basis, taking race run engines and testing them to determine horsepower amongst the different manufacturers/teams. This was done to help level the playing field. The manufacturers developed all new purpose based racing engines. Since then the horsepower has increased incrementally to now we have almost, if not more, 900 horsepower. The issue is not so much that the speeds are to high, but that the engine builders have succeeded too well and are overpowering the cars and the tracks. We are still riding on 15 inch wheels/tires with a 3200 lb. race car. Remember that with 500 horsepower restrictor plate engines, we are traveling at 195 consistently at Talledega and Daytona. By reducing horsepower, we are not going to see any dramatic drop in top end speeds. The issues facing NASCAR is developing an engine package that reduces horsepower, but not the throttle response. When restrictor plates are used, that loss of throttle response is what many drivers complain about the most. This engine package also has to work with the aero package to help produce the downforce that NASCAR is looking for. This is not an easy proposition for the engineers. So I want to say to the NASCAR diehards, RELAX! This plan to reduce horsepower is not a bad thing, its not going to turn the Cup Series into another Nationwide Series. The cars should be easier to control with less power allowing the drivers to drive the cars into the corners and race side-by-side better. I believe this is what we all want!
On another topic, before the season started , I commented on the new aero package that was developed during the "off-season". I felt this move by NASCAR was much more important to the racing than any new points system. After seven races, I'm seeing a trend where there are teams that have figured out the new ride height rules and are fast and those that are behind the curve. Hendrick Motorsports, primarily the 48, were so focused on the winning the championship last year, aren't up to snuff yet on the rules package. The 2014 gen 6 car is not the same as last year. Its a totally new animal. I have confidence that Chad Knaus will catch up and adapt to the new car sooner than later. Right now the Penske boys seemed to have it nailed. Stewart-Haas has been good on the short tracks, but mile and halves have thrown them for a loop. They have had a lot of change at SHR, RCR and MWR that may be contributing to their slower start this year.
Tomorrow, I will give an update on where we will be this weekend. Hint: 1/4 mile.