NASCAR Bans Tandem Draft

NASCAR’s ban of tandem drafting brought back the pack during Saturday’s Nationwide test at Daytona International Speedway.

And the Elliott family benefited the most with Chase Elliott posting the fastest lap at 187.993 mph and his father Bill – testing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. – running a lap of 187.974. Their laps came in a three-car pack with JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith, who was third quick at 187.950, late in Saturday’s session.

Series officials warned drivers Saturday morning that tandem drafting – where two cars run together for as long as possible – will not be tolerated. Camping World Truck Series drivers will receive the same message before they test Monday.

“If your bumpers lock up, you’re going to get black flagged,’’ Nationwide Series Director Wayne Auton said officials told drivers. “That’s going to be the rule, and we’re going to stick with it.’’

Bump drafting is OK, Auton said.

Still that leaves questions for drivers.

“How are you going to call … the difference between I was bumping for two or three seconds or I was latched on and drafting for two or three seconds,’’ Elliott Sadler said. “It’s definitely going to change the way we race big time.’’

It helped change Saturday’s test – along with another rule change to come. NASCAR announced Friday that there would be no single-car qualifying for Nationwide and Camping World Truck this season, including Daytona. Ty Dillon said it made it easy for his team to want to draft more.

“They (NASCAR) haven’t really told us what the qualifying format is going to be, but if there’s a possibility of being able to draft in qualifying, there’s no sense in not working on the draft the whole time,’’ said Dillon, who was fourth quick with a lap of 187.805 mph in the draft.

Many teams seemed to share that philosophy. Unlike Friday’s Sprint Cup test where few teams drafted, the last few hours of Saturday’s Nationwide test featured packs of as many as nine cars. A total of 25 cars got on track.

Chase Elliott enjoyed running in the draft.

“Today was great,’’ he said. “It’s amazing how much you can feel the air at a place like this and today was the first time I could get a feel for that.’’

He said he was looking forward to Sunday’s session because of the expectation that he’ll draft more. That likely will be the same for many others.

Trevor Bayne was fifth quick Saturday with a lap of 187.743 mph. He was followed by David Ragan (187.512 mph), Chris Buescher (187.398), Kyle Larson (187.243), Dylan Kwasniewski (187.064) and Jamie Dick (186.962).

Kwasniewski had never been around the 2.5-mile speedway until Saturday morning.

“It’s definitely a dream come true just to be out here,’’ he said. “It’s definitely a learning experience. I wasn’t nervous at all coming up to it. Then right when I was sitting there about to go on track, I get the nerves that I do before qualifying. I was just excited to get out there.’’

As for what it’s like in the draft?

“It’s crazy,’’ Kwasniewski said. “It’s definitely nerve-racking a little bit.’’

He’s looking to run the ARCA race at Daytona next month so he can be approved to then run the Nationwide race for Turner Scott Motorsports.

He’ll get at least another day on the track Sunday as Nationwide teams get one more day on the track. MRN

Leave a Reply