Drivers of Fords and Pontiacs on NASCAR’s Winston Cup circ
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Drivers of Fords and Pontiacs on NASCAR’s Winston Cup circuit still are not satisfied with changes designed to make them more competitive with Chevrolets _ the dominant car this year, winning eight of 10 Winston Cup races.
The drivers got to try out their new look of lower air dams and higher spoilers on Wednesday evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Many of the drivers said NASCAR’s new changes for Fords and Pontiacs, lowering the front air dam from 4 to 3.75 inches and raising the rear spoiler from 5.75 to 6 inches, will do little to help them catch the Chevrolets, which remained the same.
Changes intended to slow all the cars in the corners had been mandated by NASCAR for the May 7 Save Mart Supermarket 300. Those front air dams had been boosted from 3.75 to 4 inches, and the rear spoilers lowered from 6.25 to 5.75 inches.
After more discussions, NASCAR made the further changes to try and increase competitiveness. Wednesday, though, many said they didn’t think it would make much difference.
And then there was Rusty Wallace.
``I was happy the way it was before,″ he told The Charlotte Observer. Remember, it was Wallace who broke Chevy’s stranglehold this year, his Ford winning at Martinsville, Va., April 23. ``But I feel comfortable right now.″
He should. At the time he spoke, he had the day’s fastest lap of 30.45 seconds. So he wasn’t concerned about air dams and spoilers. He was concerned about racing, and he expects that to be slower than in recent years when the May 20 Winston Select and the May 28 Coca-Cola 600 roll around.
``All I can tell is all the cars are running slower,″ he said over the roar of revving engines. ``But I know they’re trying to get these real super high speeds in the center of the corners down. Trying to get ’em so you get out of gas, work on the car and make it go. None of this running wide open all around the race tracks.
``When you’re running wide open around Charlotte or Atlanta, it feels like you’re going twice as fast as you are at Daytona. And if you have something fail on the car, man, you hit the hell out of the wall. I think it’ll make better racing with the cars slowed up, because handling will become more important. And I think it’ll be safer.″
So Wallace was happy. Others weren’t as thrilled.
``I don’t think the changes are enough, but we’re not going to know until we race,″ said Ford driver Brett Bodine, who still managed to turn in the day’s top practice lap at 30.28 seconds (178.336 mph). ``Practice is not a good judge at all of what the changes mean, because everybody is trying things.″
Bodine feels things have been slanted toward Chevy all season, since those teams swapped their Luminas for 1995 Monte Carlos.
``We’re basically racing a 1989 design; this Thunderbird came out in ’89. There’s the difference right there.″