NASCAR promises to 'let them race'

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NASCAR announced several changes for the 2010 season with the intention of putting racing back in the drivers' hands.

At the forefront of the changes was the elimination of bump-drafting rules at superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega) and the use of a bigger restrictor plate at Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR must kick off the 2010 season with a bang. Increasing the horsepower of the engines will give drivers more control of their cars, and eliminating the "no bumping zones" on track means the drivers will control the tempo of the race, further emphasizing the "let them race" mentality that the fans yearn for.

As first reported, NASCAR also announced a change to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' new car, replacing the wing currently mounted on the rear of the car with a spoiler.

NASCAR's decision to replace the wing on the Sprint Cup Series car with a spoiler is a perfect example of the sport embracing change. The competitors and fans were extremely vocal about their displeasure with the wing, and the sanctioning body took the suggestion to heart.

NASCAR engineers worked in the offseason to perform the necessary test so teams would have data and ample time to prepare. The early feedback from the teams is that the downforce and sideforce numbers with the spoiler are close, but work will need to be done on balance and rear downforce.

But how the car will react in traffic is the biggest unknown. While the March test will answer some questions, the real results will come at the first race at Texas.

Another notable change was the promotion of Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby to the position of managing director of competition, with oversight of all three national series directors, officials, inspection processes and race officiating.

The move allows the popular official to have oversight of the top three national series. As the sport continues to grow, moving experienced people like Darby into specialized areas allows the sanctioning body to concentrate on specific issues. The repositioning of Darby also gives NASCAR the opportunity to bring fresh ideas to the series.

Brett Bodine, who was promoted to director of racing Research and Development, will take a greater role in research and development. Bodine says he's not interested in Darby's job. He would rather have "the opportunity to work with the entire industry rather than just one series."