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NASCAR Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR

NASCAR Media Conference

John Darby
November 15, 2011


Q. Maybe you didn't find the magical solution but a great first step on trying to come up with different ways of drafting?
JOHN DARBY: More than anything it's a big learning curve for everybody. Daytona and Talladega for years have been all about aluminum, whether it be an aluminum spoiler on the back of the trunk lid or the aluminum plate underneath the air valve in this case.
We've looked at a lot of different, very different, concepts here in relationship to changing up the downforce and the drag on the cars and how it affects what the drivers can and can't do on the racetrack.
In reducing the differential, if you will, from the tandem car push to what we consider a normal drafting type of a race, I think our goal is to reduce the difference. Maybe instead of being a seven mile-an-hour difference we get it to one or two so there's just more options available for all the drivers in whichever way they choose to approach the Daytona 500.
I think we've done a lot of that today. I don't think it will be one simple thing that does it. I mean, it's going to be a whole package of things. We'll have to look at cooling systems, restrictor plates, spoilers, grill openings. It will be a menu of items that will ultimately help close that gap up, so...

Q. With what you saw today, do you feel like you got a good start?
JOHN DARBY: Oh, absolutely. I'm not disappointed with today by any means. We've seen some really, really interesting results that on paper you would expect to be different, much different.
We've taken a considerable amount of drag off the cars, for example. We've increased the restrictor plate size quite a bit from when we were here in July racing, but the overall speeds haven't gone through the roof.
Whenever you can make those kind of adjustments, there is something good that's come out of it. We've got a ton of data to go back and look at and crunch and everything. The real goal is to try to formulate a package at least that we can give to the teams so they can work on coming down here in January for the Daytona 500 test, so...

Q. Do you feel like the adjustment process will continue in the January test?
JOHN DARBY: Possibly. I mean, if there's one drawback to today, it's that we're working with seven cars. One thing that stands true, and I'm not discrediting the seven teams that are here because I'm very thankful they all dedicated the time and resources to come and do this, but what we know is 43 cars make a heck of a difference. You can get close to something. Once you put a big group on a racetrack, you see more of what's really happening, so...

Q. Truex said he was going to get a bigger restrictor than before. Were you able to do that?
JOHN DARBY: We have already done that with Joe Nemechek who just experimented with some very large plate sizes to see what would happen. I think Joe's last time out, he put up like a 203.3 with a real large plate. I don't know if the 56 is going to try one or not. We've made the offer to anybody that wants to put a larger-than-normal plate on to run a lap to see what would happen.

Q. In a qualifying scenario only, would you consider running something that big and going that fast?
JOHN DARBY: Well, there's a lot of mechanics and operational things that you also have to address in terms of the teams' abilities to react to two different size plates that are extremely different. It's typical in today's world for us to change a restrictor plate during an event. But the change in the size is usually pretty minimal, right? So those are all things we just got to look at. As long as we're here, we just felt it worthy to do the experiment.

Q. (Question regarding the bumpers matching up.)
JOHN DARBY: The bumpers, they're not even a part of it. If you look at the trucks where the bumpers are eight inches misaligned, they push with the grills. The bumpers, they're a part of the car, the only place they're a player in the deal is that's where they make contact. If they don't make contact with the bumpers, they'll do it somewhere else.

Q. The Speedway did a survey of fans after the July race, and a lot of them said they don't like tandem racing anymore. Is that the impetus of this test?
JOHN DARBY: We take our fans' input seriously, we do. We have to. Every professional sport does. That's a debate that could probably go on for years, right? If you look at stats, seven guys within 50 feet of each other at Talladega and all of those, you wonder a little bit about how much more we can do. But we also understand, I think from our side, we would just like to put more options back.
A couple of guys pushing each other for a lap or two, that's been going on since 1950. You know what I mean? If the drivers could have more options in how they race and still not give up a substantial amount of speed, then that's okay.

Q. (No microphone.)
JOHN DARBY: I think we all want to forget that word, don't we (laughter)?

Q. Are you looking at the cooling system?
JOHN DARBY: We've been doing that for a year.

Q. Martin mentioned a smaller radiator. Are those kind of things on the table?
JOHN DARBY: Oh, sure. Everything is on the table. The radiator is a simple part that does have a big effect in the deal. Team spends a tremendous amount of money for a Speedway radiator, if you will. So there's lots of benefits from addressing the cooling systems. If it's simply the fact that you can have the same radiator in Atlanta and California, Michigan, Daytona and Talladega, it keeps the parts inventory lower, besides the other effects we would get here at a plate race.

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