Higher speeds, engine concerns prompt Talladega rule changes

Higher speeds in Friday’s first NASCAR Cup Series practice at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway have prompted a rules change.

Higher speeds, engine concerns prompt Talladega rule changes

To address concerns in the Cup Series garage about the toll on engines and high speeds during Friday’s first Cup Series practice session, NASCAR has issued two rule changes for the remainder of the weekend.

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Teams will add a 1-inch wicker atop their rear spoiler and teams will be able to experiment between two different gear ratios all the way through Saturday’s qualifying session. Teams will have to settle on a final gear ratio prior to Sunday’s race.

This weekend is the first superspeedway race under NASCAR’s new aero rules this season, which also included replacing the restrictor-plate with a tapered spacer.

In the first 50-minute practice, eight drivers registered average lap speeds of more than 202 mph and 21 of 37 averaged more than 200 mph.

“The closing rate, based on my memory, is the highest I've ever experienced,” driver Jimmie Johnson said Friday following the first practice. “I heard some guys talk the closing rate was similar to what was run in 2001 or maybe what a truck would run like, but in my Cup career I haven’t experienced either of those.

“In my Cup career I haven’t experienced a closing rate like that. Also, the engine pulling. With this tapered spacer instead of restrictor-plate, we have 100 more horsepower and the engines are running hard.”

Several teams reported closing rate speeds of upwards of 208 mph during the first practice. Team will utilize the changes in Friday’s second Cup practice session.

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