There will be a fourth restrictor plate race in the Xfinity Series in 2017.
Per NBC Sports, NASCAR has said it will put plates on the cars in its No. 2 series for the July 24 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The move is a clear attempt to make the races at the 2.5-mile speedway exciting. Or, at least have some excitement. Since the Xfinity Series started racing at Indianapolis instead of the Indianapolis Raceway Park short track in 2012, the races have been a bore.
Restrictor plates, for those of you unfamiliar with them, restrict the airflow into the engine. They limit acceleration and lower top speeds. The lack of acceleration means cars can’t sprint away from each other and can lead to the pack racing seen at Daytona and Talladega, the two tracks where plates are typically used.
But Daytona and Talladega are high-banked multi-groove racetracks. Indianapolis is … well, it’s not that. It’s become clear that it’s near-impossible for cars to go side-by-side in each four of the track’s flat 90-degree corners.
The move to add plates is understandable. NASCAR needed to do something about the racing at Indianpolis in the Xfinity Series. The gap between good and bad equipment in the series is never more visible than it is at Indianapolis, a place that requires both downforce and horsepower.
But because of that gap, adding plates is simply like trying to get out of credit card debt by simply making the minimum payment on time. It’s a short term solution because it’s much easier to add restrictor plates than it is to figure out a way to balance out competition in the series where Cup teams dominate and independent teams have no way of keeping up.
There’s also no guarantee that restrictor plates will help underdogs have a shot, either. The field may end up looking unbalanced like it always does, just with cars a bit closer together on the track. Or it could wildly succeed and Ryan Sieg and Jeremy Clements could contend for a win.
We’ll be betting on the former. But there’s at least a level of intrigue for the race that didn’t have any at all before.
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