Socialism appears to be alive and well in NASCAR Winston Cup,
Apr. 28, 1995
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) _ Socialism appears to be alive and well in NASCAR Winston Cup, where the idea of a perfect race is one with 40 identical cars.
In another midseason adjustment in the name of equality, NASCAR's hierarchy imposed car modifications which left the Chevrolet camp fuming and the Ford camp saying not enough has been done to correct its competitive disadvantage.
``We're being penalized for hard work,'' said Dave Marcis, driver of the Chevy Monte Carlo which has dominated the Winston Cup circuit heading into Sunday's Winston Select 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. ``That's not what America was founded on.''
The Chevy teams worry that two years of hard work and thousands of miles of testing to convert from the boxy Lumina to the sleek Monte Carlo this year will be undone by rule changes after only nine races.
But the Ford side thinks it deserved a break because NASCAR allowed Chevy's new racing car to be wider in the rear than the vehicle which consumers drive off the showroom floor. That change, made in the name of safety and stability, also made the Monte Carlo much quicker in the corners.
``Shoot, that's not showroom stock,'' said Robert Yates, owner of the No. 28 Ford Thunderbird driven by Dale Jarrett. ``We've not been asleep, it's just they have a very distinct advantage and we've got to get some help.''
NASCAR officials have one overriding concern: to make everyone as competitive as possible.
``It's not unprecedented for us to make mechanical changes to keep the cars as identical as possible when they leave the garage,'' Mike Helton, vice president of competition, said Thursday. ``We want the differences on the track to be human, not mechanical.''
Helton pointed to the new sections of stands that have been added for Sunday's race.
``Those seats were added because of demand,'' he said. ``For that to happen, you've got to have a good show on the track. And to have a good show on the track, everybody has got to have a chance to win.''
NASCAR announced the modifications Wednesday following unprecedented wind-tunnel testing of all three competing models, the other being the Pontiac Grand Prix.
The changes were in response to the Monte Carlo's dominating start. Chevy drivers won the first seven races this year before Rusty Wallace in a Ford broke the streak last week at Martinsville, Va., where aerodynamics weren't as much of a factor.
``They couldn't do it any fairer,'' said Ricky Rudd, who drives a Thunderbird. ``They don't have to rely on someone telling them that Ford is better or Chevy is better. They can read the data right there.''
The Talladega race will be the final one under the current rules. For the May 7 road race at Sonoma, Calif., the minimum ground clearance for the front air dams will be raised and the rear spoilers lowered on all cars.
For the following event, the May 28 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, N.C., Ford and Pontiac teams can lower their front air dams back to previous levels and raise the spoiler a quarter-inch while the Monte Carlos have to remain the same.
``We worked our butts off in the offseason while they (Ford teams) went on cruises and brought the same car to the track as last year,'' complained Jimmy Johnson, manager of the powerful Hendrick Motorsports team that's home to Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Ken Schrader.
He said the real victims are Chevy drivers like Marcis, who benefited from the new Monte Carlo but don't have the money to stay with the top Ford teams. ``I feel sorry for those guys,'' Johnson said.
Marcis raised a more serious issue. He said forcing Chevy to raise the front air dam and lower the rear spoiler will rob the car of stability.
``Both of those items are going to cause more accidents, and we don't need any more accidents,'' he said. ``We've got too many as it is now.''
But Yates said NASCAR didn't go far enough. He remembered Buick's demise on the Winston Cup circuit and worried that the same thing could happen to him.
``You couldn't take a Buick and win with some of the sleeker cars that came along in 1984,'' Yates said. ``It put them out of business. I don't want to be put out of business.''