Oct. 21, 2011; Talladega, AL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton (31) bump drafts teammate Clint Bowyer (33) during practice for the Good Sam Club 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Talladega: Restrictor Plate 101

The spring race at Talladega is one that I always mark on my calander. With a break from the 1.5 mile D-Ovals and some less-than-stellar short tracks we have seen this spring, it’s time to go “Plate Racing” again.  We will have the Nationwide Aaron’s 312 at 3pm on Saturday and then a High Noon Sprint Cup Aarons 499 on Sunday. Trucks are off until Charlotte.

I don’t know if you have  listened to Larry McReynolds or Jeff Hammond on the broadcasts telling you about Restrictor Plates or were getting a beer during that part of the broadcast, but in a nutshell for new race fans, the 750 HP Sprint Cup cars run too fast at Talladega and Daytona, so Nascar mandates a plate that fits between the intake manifold and the carburetor that limits airflow through the system. This cuts the horsepower to about 430 and will serve to keep the cars in the sub 200 mph range. I know, they don’t run Carburetors anymore, they run Fuel Injection. Same theory. If you’re really interested in this you can find info at Wikipedia by googling “restrictor plate”.

If you put a Cup car in a wind tunnel, you find that at a little over 200 mph, they will fly. You remember from The Flying Nun…if speed plus lift is greater than weight plus drag…you can fly. There were too many incidents at these tracks, as the cars got faster and faster, where cars were getting airborne and creating monstrous wrecks, just ask Rusty Wallace. Nascar does not want one of these flying objects in the grandstands hurting us fans.

If memory serves, I think Mark Martin tested a COT car at Talladega without a restrictor plate and he was up to around 250mph. As I would love to see an IRL race at one of these tracks, that is just too fast for current safety equipment such as catch fences and the safe barriers.

The plate tracks had some pretty good racing for a couple of years there. The lack of get-away-speed by any one car, leads to pack racing. This can be some of the more exciting racing we will see during the Cup season. A change to the stabilizer fin and rear wing caused a shift last year to what I called “Love Bug Racing”. You remember last year when we had the two car tandems. That wasn’t very good racing and through some rule changes regarding radiator sizes and team communications, they seem to have somewhat eliminated this at Daytona in February. I’m sorry about the reference to Love Bugs, folks here in Florida will know what I’m talking about.

Jimmie Johnson is your defending champion at the Aarons 499. He nudged Dale Jr. and Clint Bowyer last year for a .002 second victory. So get buckled in and a cold one and enjoy this exciting Venue. I live about an hour from Daytona and have been there many times, but have always wanted to get up to Alabama and catch the race live. Just an FYI..during Talladega races, Talladega is the largest city in Alabama.



Tags: Jimmie Johnson NASCAR Nationwide Series NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

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