Restrictor plate racing returns
May 5, 2012
Restrictor plate racing is back. Yes, NASCAR is at Talladega this week, and we will probably see the full effect of the new cooling system rules. Temperatures are predicted in the mid to upper 80s – much warmer than Daytona in February. So a two-car tandem probably won’t be able to run more than a lap, if that far, without overheating the pushing car.
So we will see much more of the pack racing that was the norm at restrictor plate tracks until recently. Unfortunately, I think we will see some overheating problems with cars that are stuck in the middle of a pack and can’t get air to the radiator. When you’re running at nearly 200 miles per hour with cars inches away in all directions, how do you get out of there to get clean air? I predict we’ll see more engine failures than at Kansas. Another factor may be rain. There is a 30 percent chance of rain, with isolated thunderstorms predicted for the Talladega area both today and Sunday. ARCA and Nationwide Series qualifying sessions were rained out on Thursday. It could be a replay of Daytona, with a Monday night finish (hopefully without a flaming jet dryer).
The IndyCar series ran its first international race of the season in Brazil last weekend, the final race before the Indy 500. Will Power dominated, winning from the pole with a combination of speed and fuel mileage that had the rest of the field scratching their heads in wonder. Defending champion Dario Franchitti finally had a decent race, running as high as second until he faded to fifth at the finish. With Helio Castroneves’ win at the season opener in St. Petersburg and Power’s hat trick, Penske cars have won every race so far this season. Indy is a whole different animal though, and the Ganassi team, as well as the other Honda-powered entries, may have an advantage with their single turbo setup. It will be good to hear the sound of a screaming turbo at Indy again, after 15 years without them.
Fernley 95A Speedway had 80 cars and nine Outlaw Karts for its second points race of the season last Saturday. Local drivers Billy Wilson and Shane Ramthun finished 1-2 in the Dwarf Car main. Carl Barlow took second in the Hobby Stock main, with Randy Boyd and Dean Clark finishing fourth and fifth. Gary Nevers was the highest-finishing Carson City driver in Pro Stock in fourth, and Tom Purcell finished second in the IMCA Modified main followed by Robert Miller in third. The next race is on May 12, and I’ll be in the announcer’s booth.
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If you saw some really cool old race cars driving through town last week, they were here as part of the 22nd annual California Mille Miglia. For those of you who don’t speak Italian, Mille Miglia means 1000 miles. The original Mille Miglia ran on public roads in Italy beginning in 1926, but World War II halted the race. It was resumed after the war, however it was banned after an accident in 1957 killed 10 spectators. The Italian version is now a rally, as is the California Mille which runs from San Francisco through gold country and ends in Sonoma. If you want to get involved, buy an eligible car for a few hundred thousand dollars and pay your entry fee of $6,000 for next year’s run.