FORT WORTH, Texas – As NASCAR mulls changes to its engines in the future, coming to a consensus in the garage about the best way to do it may be impossible.
The most talked about change and the one viewed as most likely to happen is a reduction in horsepower. NASCAR could do it by having a smaller engine than the powerplants that currently produce almost 900 horsepower, or it could simply put a tapered spacer on the engine.
On Tuesday, a representative from Toyota said any horsepower cuts were in the consideration phase while NASCAR has said many possible tweaks are being considered. In March, NASCAR Vice President of Competition told Fox Sports that any engine changes wouldn't be focused on improving the quality of racing.
A tapered spacer is basically a restrictor plate. It would cut down on horsepower without many other modifications to the engine being necessary. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not a fan of the tapered spacer method.
“I don’t think they are trying to make it more competitive," Junior said. "No matter how the horsepower is I think we will have competitive racing. I think the racing is competitive any way you slice it. I can enjoy a race where a guy laps the field just as much as I can enjoy one where they are side-by-side across the finish line. There is something to be appreciated about both ways of winning and how a race plays out. I like the idea of going to a smaller motor and allowing us to engineer through that package instead of choking down what we currently have with a plate. I think choking the motor down with a plate is the easiest way to go and the laziest way to go."
Junior then said he wanted an unrestrected engine for throttle response. With a restrictor plate at Talladega and Daytona, cars take approximately a lap to get up to full speed, so any manipulation with a similar strategy would garner similar results.
When he was asked about engine changes, Joey Logano said he wanted more horsepower. See? If you surveyed the garage you'd get a myriad of opinions.
"I think something that’s cool about Sprint Cup racing is we’ve got 850-900 horsepower in these things," Logano said. "That’s pretty badass, so I obviously want to make sure we have that, but, either way, we’ve just got to make sure we put on a great race for the fans, whether we have three horsepower or 900 horsepower – make sure it’s a great race. If that’s the direction we have to go to put on a better race, then so be it. At the same time, I’m not sure if that will be the answer or not, but we have to look at every option we have and figure out what we’ve got to do to make it the best.”
It's hyperbole to say the impending decision to tweak engines is landscape-altering for NASCAR. The best teams and drivers will likely be the quickest ones to adapt to any changes. But it's a significant decision that, like the Chase, will be one that's debated and scrutinized heavily once it's finalized.
"“I hope they will go the way I want to go. Whatever way they end up going whatever decision they end up making, there is not a wrong decision, there is an okay one and a better one in my opinion," Junior said."They are going to do it. It’s kind of like the 3 coming back (with Austin Dillon). A lot of people didn’t want it to come back. A lot of people were upset that it came back, but it’s coming back. I think the reduction in power is coming whether you like it or not. I chose as an individual to get on the side of being productive in that discussion instead of saying we don’t need to do it and trying to fight it, let’s try to make sure when it does happen we do it the right way and give ourselves something to grow into and something to engineers and something that is productive for many years to come. It’s coming either way whether we like it or not. You can have both sides arguing against and for, for however long you want, but it’s going to happen so we might as well start thinking about how we want it to happen and trying to have those discussions on making sure we make the best choice we can make for the sport.”
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