NASCAR has approved the largest restrictor plate for its Sprint Cup Series competitors since the mandated introduction of a one-inch metal unit in 1988 for next month’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway.
The event traditionally considered the halfway point of the NASCAR season will be contested with carburetor restrictor plate openings of 1 1/32-inches. The Coke Zero 400, third of four Cup races contested with the plate in 2010, will be the final event run on the current asphalt on the high-banked, 2.5-mile DIS trioval. The second complete repaving of the track has been scheduled for after the race, the result of pothole problems that forced two lengthy red-flag stoppages during the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.
The 52nd annual Coke Zero 400 will take the green flag on Saturday, July 3, at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Each NASCAR-issued restrictor plate contains four openings which restrict air flow to the typical four-barrel carb. The plate is designed to decrease the engine’s ability to draw air into the manifold and cylinder heads and restrict its ability to produce horsepower. Larger openings mean more air, and more speed. Plate racing was introduced at DIS and the sister 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway by NASCAR in a bid to prevent stock cars from exceeding the 200 mph barrier, as well as a safety measure for drivers and fans.
Earlier this year, NASCAR mandated openings of 63/64-inches for the Daytona 500 - then the largest restrictor-plate openings since the one-inch mandate in 1988. The Daytona 500, won by Jamie McMurray of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, featured a record 21 different leaders who exchanged the lead 52 times.
“We think this will be a needed boost due to the additional drag we’ve picked up since switching from a rear wing to a rear spoiler,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition. Rule changes announced on Jan. 21, following a round of testing at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, mandated a switch from a wing mounted on the rear deck lid of NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow back to a more traditional fixed spoiler. The March event at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway marked the first race for the new spoiler.
“The upcoming Coke Zero 400 has the potential to be one of the most competitive races in track history,” said Robin Braig, president of DIS.
John Sturbin covered college sports, baseball as well as the NHL and Dallas Cowboys while working at the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. He was their fulltime motorsports beat writer from 1995 to 2008.
John can be reached at email@example.com