Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cup Series Reunited with the Rear Spoiler

Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

Through the past two weeks of coverage for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, it's interesting how much attention a slightly-contoured 64.5 x 3.5 inch piece of sheetmetal can receive within the NASCAR press. The Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway will be the first competition since 2007 where a spoiler will adorn the rear deck lid of NASCAR Sprint Cup cars.

The rear spoiler will of course replace the carbon-fiber rear wing as an aerodynamic enhancer to the tricky handling COT design Sprint Cup car. Under belief that the rear spoiler will restore some more needed downforce to the NASCAR vehicle, the spoiler blade will also be set at a fixed 70 degree angle to eliminate the adjustability option that the rear wing presented race teams. Regardless of the aerodynamic performance potential, the vanquishing of the notorious rear wing will immediately be greeted as a welcoming site on appearance alone.

Through a high-profile, two-day open test for Sprint Cup series teams at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Jeff Burton driving his #31 Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Chevrolet set the fastest lap. Clocked at 28.539 seconds with an average speed of 189.215 miles per hour, Burton's speed was more than 7/10ths of a mile of hour faster than Ryan Newman's pole lap for the 2009 Coca-Cola 600. Second fastest car in the Charlotte spoiler test was fellow RCR teammate Kevin Harvick at a comparably more leisurely speed of 187.885 MPH. Judging by the gaps between the top times recorded in the test, it seems reasonably to accept that the change from a wing to the rear spoiler will have little affect to speeds around the 1.5 mile oval.

While competing on the smallest and slowest track on the NASCAR Sprint cup schedule, this weekend's race on the Martinsville Speedway will be a test as maximum downforce will be sought in hustling around concrete paved corners.

While the the return of the rear spoiler is clearly a back to basics move for the NASCAR series, some future changes for the premier stock car racing tour will again challenge traditions. NASCAR has indicated through earlier reports this week that testing of fuel-injection is progressing well. Penciling in the replacement of the cornerstone carburetor setup Sprint Cup in 2011, a fuel-injected NASCAR engine may also run a gasoline blended with ethanol.

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