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Restrictor Plate Debate
Plate racing is just another form of NASCAR racing

Each year the NASCAR Winston Cup stars run four restrictor plate races, two in Daytona and two more in Talladega. This close lugnut-to-lugnut racing is always exciting for the fans and controversial for the drivers.

The restrictor plate is a thin aluminum plate that fits between carburetor and the intake manifold. This plate limits the amount of air that can enter the engine, less air equals less horsepower and slower, safer races. In May of 1987 Bobby Allison lost control of his racecar and wrecked down the front stretch at Talladega. His car became airborne and spun violently into the catch fence in front of the crowd in the stands. There was only a little chain link and a whole bunch of luck that prevented Bobby's car from getting into the grandstand and killing hundreds of spectators that day.

Beginning with the Daytona 500 in 1988 NASCAR mandated the use of restrictor plates in an attempt to slow the cars down to improve safety. Since then every Winston Cup race held at either Daytona or Talladega has featured close fan friendly racing with an exciting finish.

Now in a related guest column Joel Wyatt seems to connect speed with the quality of the race. Heck for once I agree with him. At 210mph the drivers would not be able to run door to door, however at 180mph the cars are a little more stable and the drivers are able to put on a great side by side racing display.

It is great racing that has made this the greatest sport in the world and restrictor plates live up to that billing. It is just a different type of racing, and thank God for that. I'm getting sick of 1.5 to 2 mile D shaped ovals. NASCAR needs variety! The restrictor plates cause the driver to think differently about how to win the race. It's drafting, positioning, pit strategy and teamwork that win at the superspeedways. The drivers do not use the same strategy at Sears Point that they do at Charlotte, then when they go to Martinsville it's a whole new ball game again. So why not have another completely unique type of racing on the schedule?

The restrictor plate races are just another aspect of NASCAR, one more thing that you must master if you want to be called the Winston Cup Champion.



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