Single-file racing raises concerns for Daytona 500 spectacle

Single-file racing in NASCAR's Daytona week so far has led to concerns about the show in Sunday's Monster Energy Cup Series season-opening 500.

Single-file racing raises concerns for Daytona 500 spectacle

Last weekend's non-championship Clash race, Thursday night's Duel qualifying races and Saturday's Xfinity Series opener were all characterised by long periods of cars running single-file and protecting the high line.

The Daytona 500 is an anomaly in the revised 2019 Cup rules package – featuring horsepower reductions and aerodynamic changes to try to stabilise the cars and improve the racing – and is the final time the restrictor plate system will be used.

Retired driver Dale Earnhardt Jr, whose JR Motorsports team won the Xfinity race with Michael Annett, admitted he was worried.

“I don't know what's going on with the high line becoming just so clearly dominant,” he said. “It doesn't seem like it's entirely by choice that they all ride up there. It's by necessity.

“We're going to have a completely different package when we go to Talladega so it could be a non-issue, but the Xfinity cars and the Cup cars are not entirely similar and they both reacted the same way and did the same thing and raced the same way.

“The drag numbers aren't the same, the power isn't the same, the drivers aren't the same, but they looked the same and ran the same and had the same similar race that we've seen all week.”

Many drivers have cited the fact that passing is easiest on the outside, so the high line is being monopolised because they do not want rivals to get a run to their right.

Roush Fenway driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr spent “the last 25 laps trying to figure out exactly what I was going to do” in the first Duel as he chased leader Kevin Harvick, but “nothing really materialized” in terms of passing opportunities.

“Everybody has just learned that if we keep cars away from our right rear quarter panel, we can kind of defend our position,” said Stenhouse after finishing second.

“You get the top five or six that want to run single file, then the rest of the cars that want to race. They can't because we're so fast in the top lane.”

The second Duel did feature a last-lap pass for the lead, as Clint Bowyer was overcome by Joey Logano – who had drafting help from Penske team-mate Ryan Blaney – in the closing stages.

Bowyer said the fact the leaders could run so much quicker in a single file train was hard to ignore.

“Once those cars get single file like that, just look at the lap times, that tells the story,” he said. “Those laptimes pick up a second, literally a second. The longer that chain got the faster I went up front.

“One time the chain must have got longer because we picked up three tenths like 'boom'.”

Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Monster Energy and Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro NAPA AUTO PARTS

Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Monster Energy and Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro NAPA AUTO PARTS

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / LAT Images

shares
comments
Sam Bass, NASCAR's first officially licensed artist, dies at 57

Previous article

Sam Bass, NASCAR's first officially licensed artist, dies at 57

Next article

Kevin Harvick's Speedweeks started slow but is gaining speed

Kevin Harvick's Speedweeks started slow but is gaining speed
Load comments
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020