DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. — Ten drivers topped 200 mph at Friday night's Bud Shootout practice, and NASCAR responded by inspecting the restrictor plate and ... doing nothing? Wait, is this right?
Yes indeed it is. For the moment, NASCAR will keep the restrictor plates — devices used to cut down on airflow to the engine, and thus keep speed down — at their current levels. What will be done, however, is the removal of an auxiliary air hose that has the effect of cooling the engines.
The issue is this: during practice, cars were able to pair up in two-car sets, nose to tail, and wheel around the track for multiple laps at a time thanks to the new track's smoothness. Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. wheeled around fast enough and long enough to nearly achieve liftoff velocity. Several cars needed touchup paint on their noses from grinding so hard against others' bumpers.
And while that's good news for the individual cars themselves, a series of two-car pairs all over the track is not exactly the ideal fan viewing experience.
Regardless, there's basic strategy that still applies here. The best position to be in on the final lap at Daytona is in second place. Why? We'll let a guy who's won here eight times explain, fella by the name of Earnhardt:
"As soon as you pull out (from behind) his car is going to do 185 mph. That's as fast as this car can go with that plate. When you're in second, whenever you want to pass the guy, you can do it in 50 yards, just pull out and he just stops. It just kills his car. It's definitely best to be running second in a little two-car car lock off of Turn 4 and do it somewhere between there and the flagstand.''
Earnhardt gave that interview to Landmark Newspapers' Dustin Long. So keep an eye on the No. 2 spot coming into that final turn ... and place your bets quickly.