Published on June 9th, 2011 | by Michael J Smith0
NASCAR Makes Rules Changes For Pocono
NASCAR has adjusted its rules on the transmission ratio for the 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway that will allow drivers to shift at the 2.5 mile triangle, according to the Citizen’s Voice. In 2005, NASCAR changed the gear ratios, which eliminated shifting.
NASCAR wanted to keep costs down and prevent engine builders from pushing the envelope. The rule applied to all tracks except for the two road courses on the Sprint Cup schedule: Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International.
While Pocono is not a road course, some argue that it has similar characteristics, and therefore, drivers should be allowed to shift.
Reaction to the change as been positive. Greg Biffle of Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 16 Ford said:
Long overdue. To be aggressive and for the car to perform properly at that track, and in order to make passing more capable, we really needed to shift at that race track.
Brian Vickers, driver of Red Bull Racing’s No. 83 Toyota said:
Without shifting, we haven’t had the power we need to really get underneath people and pass. So I think it all points to a better race.
The change is also expected to be grueling for the engines, according to David Wilson, senior vice president for Toyota Racing Development and engine builder for RBR and Michael Waltrip Racing. He said:
We do shifting simulations. Prior to this, Chicago was the highest estimated time that the engine spends over 9000 RPM and that was 24 minutes. For Pocono, we’re forecasting something as high as 55 to 56 minutes above 9000 RPM. So we put a lot of time into the durability aspect to make sure that our engines are robust enough to survive the abuse.
NASCAR has also changed the qualifying procedure starting at Pocono. Qualifying order will still be determined by practice speeds — from slowest to fastest — but the times now come from the first practice session instead of the combined practice sessions.
And, teams that are not in the top 35 in owner’s points (and therefore not locked into the race) will now have to qualify with teams that are locked in. Previously, all teams that had to qualify on speed were grouped together.