NASCAR & Auto Racing

NASCAR throws new plate at COT, slowing cars at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. – NASCAR slowed speeds Tuesday on the car of tomorrow at Talladega Superspeedway, where only half the field topped 190 mph on the second day of the test session.

With a smaller restrictor-plate, only 27 drivers went over 190. Paul Menard turned the fastest lap of the day at 193.045 mph in a Chevrolet. Speeds reached 196 mph on Monday, and 44 drivers topped 190 mph.

“We have the tools to slow them down. NASCAR did a good job with that,” driver Ryan Newman said. “Basically we’re just acclimating the car to the race track.”

The COT is being phased into competition this season, and it will make its restrictor-plate race debut at Talladega in October.

That event is also in the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship.

NASCAR experimented with several restrictor-plate packages and wicker setups, and there didn’t seem to be many complaints about the car’s handling.

“It drives like it’s on a rail,” Carl Edwards said. “We have to work on the visibility through the cars. You can’t see anything in front of you when you’re tucked up behind somebody. But other than that, it seems fine.”

Several drivers said the COT already is acclimated to restrictor-plate racing in terms of bump drafting. Because of the uniformity of the cars, the bumpers match perfectly, which the drivers speculated should allow for more and possibly safer bump drafting.

“You’re going to see a lot of bump drafting – a lot of bump drafting – just because of the way these cars are built and the way the bumpers line up,” Casey Mears said. “I think the race is going to be good, and it’s going to be a big ol’ tight group like always.”

A late afternoon rain shower cut the session short by almost three hours, but drivers seemed pleased with the two-day test.

“I’m excited about (the COT),” 2004 series champion Kurt Busch said. “It’s going to change the element of how Talladega races, and I think it will be twice as exciting.”

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