A Team Get A Larger Restrictor Plate?
In July of the 2001 Winston Cup
Season, NASCAR received an enormous amount of accusations that
they had fixed the Pepsi 400
at Daytona. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dominated the race and won at
the track that claimed the life of his father almost five
months earlier. Several members of the media, fans, and
other racing series around the world accused NASCAR of giving
Earnhardt, Jr. an advantage
in hopes that a win by him would help heal the wound caused by
the loss of Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
The most common claim was that
Earnhardt's car was given a larger restrictor plate, thus
allowing his car to have more power than his competitors.
In fact, it is impossible for a larger restrictor plate to be
placed on any of the cars. Earnhardt, Jr's domination of that
race was reminiscent of the way that Sterling Marlin used to
dominate at Daytona and Talladega in the mid 90's. Another
matter that was overlooked was the fact that a RAD car has won
every race at those two tracks since the introduction of the
RAD is an aerodynamic association in which Richard Childress
Racing, Andy Petree Racing, and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. share
aerodynamic information in hopes of making their cars better.
In 3 weeks, the Winston Cup
series returns to the site of Dale Earnhardt Sr's last win,
Talladega Super speedway. To put all of these claims
about restrictor plates to rest, I present the following
facts. First of all, all restrictor plates are installed in
broad day light, not inside the Inspection Bay, but in the
open where even a fan in the
grandstands can see the plates being installed. Second,
the plates are kept in a lock box, and that box is only opened
when a plate is being removed or placed back in the lock box.
Third, and possibly most important, each restrictor plate
assigned to the cars is chosen by luck of the draw. It
is not predetermined which plate will go on which car.
Next, a NASCAR official takes
the plate to a template and has it measured while a
representative from that team watches. If the
holes in the plate are too small or too wide, the plate is
immediately and another one is randomly picked. Then
comes the actual installation of the restrictor plate. The car
is pushed from the Inspection Bay to a spot in the garage
area. A NASCAR official places a gasket on the intake
manifold and then places the restrictor plate on top of the
gasket. The official steps aside and watches
the team install the carburetor and cold-air box. Before
the car is allowed to move, the team must start the engine and
have the official check for vacuum leaks with a probe to
ensure that there are no air leaks. More air would allow
the teams to make more power. If the
car passes that test, it is cleared to go practice, qualify,
or race, whatever the case may be.
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