Check that spoiler there at right, on the back of Jeff Gordon's photo-negative ride. That bolted-on hunk is the savior of NASCAR, at least if you believe the scuttlebutt that came out of Talladega. (If there's one thing we take very seriously, it's scuttlebutt.)
Anyway, on Tuesday 24 teams held test runs at Talladega with the new spoiler, and the results were, to put it mildly, rather surprising. Twitter feeds were full of astonishing revelations -- did Dale Earnhardt Jr. really hit 213 mph? -- and the consensus seemed to be that the spoiler was very, very fast.
Most of NASCAR's best drivers took turns around the track testing the spoiler, as Scene Daily noted, and various combinations of restrictor plates. "The feedback was that the cars are stable but the closure rate was a little too much at some points, and that's what we spent most of the afternoon working on -- trying to slow that closure rate down," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR VP of Competition and coiner of the "Boys, have at it" slogan.
The basic issue was that the cars would close quickly -- "suck-up speed," as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby put it -- but if the car fell out of the draft, the spoiler would yank it backwards. (Aside: "Suck-Up Speed" would be an awesome name for a new racing blog. Get on that, somebody.)
Over the course of the day, the Talladega garage resembled a shade-tree mechanic's backyard, as teams switched in and out various restrictor plates and shaved off chunks of the spoiler. The idea in Tuesday's testing was to determine which combination would work the best at the April Talladega race, with the hope of keeping cars both in contention and on the ground.
The spoiler is expected to debut within the next few weeks.