TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Speeds exceeded 200 mph during NASCAR’s spoiler test at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR plans to switch from a rear wing to a traditional spoiler, perhaps as early as next week’s race at Martinsville Speedway, and Tuesday’s test was the first time a large group of cars have been on track with the spoiler. There were 25 Sprint Cup teams at the test, which started with single-car runs and then moved to a drafting practice.
NASCAR called teams into the garage to change the size of the restrictor-plate, which is used to throttle horsepower and control speeds at Talladega and Daytona, the two largest and fastest tracks in the series.
Later, NASCAR ordered teams to trim the spoilers in an effort to level them off and decrease the drag, something driver Kurt Busch said was needed.
“Overall I’d say we have a thumbs up with the spoiler,” Busch said. “We might need to trim the spoiler a little bit to balance out the drag, because right now the lead car can get out there, but he can’t go anywhere, and it invites everybody else to suck up really easy.
“That’s a concern. We need to balance out how close we keep the pack and yet how controlled the pack is. But the spoiler felt comfortable.”
Four-time Cup NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon said he supports the change, and was never a fan of the rear wing, which was introduced in 2007 when NASCAR phased in a new model car.
“I was never crazy about the way the wing was mounted on the back of the car,” Gordon said. “I envisioned it being a little bit more like a Trans-Am car, where it was raised up. The wing we put on there was just a glorified spoiler. It sat down on the deck lid and wasn’t very appealing, and we weren’t really using it efficiently.
“I’m hoping and thinking that this is going to be a change for the better. I’m very supportive of it and open to it. And the fans seem to be supportive of it as well. That’s important. So if it’s good for the competitors and good for the fans, then I think it’s great for the entire sport.”
One hope in the return of the spoiler is that it will stop cars from going airborne in accidents. Carl Edwards was in a spectacular accident at Talladega last April, when his car went flying into the frontstretch fencing. Two weeks ago in Atlanta, Brad Keselowski’s car also went airborne.
“We hadn’t seen cars do that with the spoiler on it,” driver Martin Truex Jr. said. “I think the wing is a big part of what was happening there. I think this will take care of that problem.”
NASCAR will analyze data from Tuesday’s test before setting parameters for a two-day test next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. That’s where drivers will get a real feel for how the spoiler differs from the wing, Gordon said.
“This test is really just about what’s going to happen in the draft. You’re not going to find out a lot about balance and those things,” he said. “When we get to Charlotte, we’re going to find out what a spoiler really does in comparison to a wing.”