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Danica's weight advantage UPDATE
Danica Patrick is very small and rumored to weigh under 100 pounds soaking wet
Getty Images for NASCAR
A reader writes, Dear AR1.com,  I’m still absolutely astounded that people believe that the laws of physics do not apply to some racing organizations when it comes to weight and performance.

From the most basic levels of racing in karting to the pinnacle of motorsports, weight is a major factor in terms of lap times. Every kart class uses a minimum weight limit and drivers must cross scales at the end of every race. Just recently at the latest F1 test was Christian Horner (team principal of Red Bull) saying how difficult it was to determine the relevance of the lap times because a mere 20lbs is equal to 3.5 tenths per lap at the Jerez circuit.

Now combine that with “100% throttle” racing, where a lot of the skill of finding lap time by carrying more speed around a corner is removed, and it is even more of an advantage. If NASCAR gave every team the option to qualify or race with 40 less pounds in their car how many would take it? If a mere 10 or 20 pounds doesn’t make a difference, why do they qualify with as little fuel as possible?

We saw how the IRL handled this issue, which was basically ignore it and lie to the public saying it didn’t make an impact on performance b/c they didn’t want to remove the advantage their “star” media darling had over the other drivers. It remains to be seen how NASCAR will handle this issue. Will they side on equal treatment for all drivers or error on media exposure? She did just get the pole at their biggest race in a transponder-less car, so you decide. D. Hughes

02/18/13 There has been growing talk this week that Danica Patrick, who is quite diminutive in size compared to other Sprint Cup Series drivers, has a weight advantage over other competitors.

While NASCAR does take driver's weight into account in its inspection process, how it calculates that differential leaves some wiggle room for a person like Patrick.

The current rules say a driver's weight can change the overall minimum car weight based on the following schedule:

180 lbs. – Above / 3,300 lbs.
170 lbs. – 179 lbs. / 3,310 lbs.
160 lbs. – 169 lbs. / 3,320 lbs.
150 lbs. – 159 lbs. / 3,330 lbs.
140 lbs. – 149 lbs. / 3,340 lbs.

Notice the schedule only goes to 140 pounds. Assuming Patrick's weight is a good deal less than 140, she may not have to add as much weight to the overall minimum car weight as some others.

So, is there an advantage? NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton said maybe.

"It's hard to give a yes or no answer. When you are trying to race anything, there is a balance between the weight you need and whether it's a balance between left and right-side weight or overall weight. When you go to places like Daytona, it probably means very little," Pemberton said. "Where it would mean the most is probably Martinsville or New Hampshire. That's just my opinion." ThatsRacingLuckyDog
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