NASCAR

COT levels restrictor-plate playing field

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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Clint from Greenville, S.C.: After thinking about Tony Eury Jr. going to Hendrick Motorsports, only one thought came to mind ... Think about the superspeedway cars that this combo is going to produce. Scary, isn't it? Larry McReynolds: Hendrick is at the forefront of restrictor plate racing right now, but just remember, everybody is back to ground zero with restrictor plate racing for the most part. It all starts at Talladega Superspeedway on Monday with a big test because, from now on, the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series will run the Car of Tomorrow in plate races. It's a totally different engine package. NASCAR will institute a gear rule, like the teams run at Fontana and Michigan. There will be a bigger restrictor plate, and they're taking away the restrictor plate intake. Even though Robert Yates Racing has been very dominant on qualifying day at Daytona and Talladega and Hendrick has been dominant on race day, nobody can ring a bell and say which team will be the favorite with the new package.

The biggest thing that Tony Eury Jr. brings to Hendrick Motorsports is how to handle Dale Earnhardt Jr. All eyes will be watching Dale Jr.'s team as they come out of the box so they'd better run strong, and that's where Eury will benefit this operation from a performance standpoint. They've got their i's dotted and t's crossed at Hendrick. They just needed the right person to handle Dale Jr.

Where's the roof hatch?

Frank from Vail, Ariz.: After watching Michael Waltrip's wreck and fire, I couldn't help noting what everyone did. He had a heck of a time getting out of the car. Whatever happened to the roof hatch for which he advocated? Larry McReynolds: This answer probably isn't what NASCAR wants to hear, but it's very complicated to put into a car. It takes a lot of man hours, and it makes the roof of the car much heavier. While Waltrip wasn't racing the Car of Tomorrow at Fontana, we can take it one step furtherwith that car. The COT magnifies weight issues because the center of gravity is higher. Putting on my crew chief hat, my crew did everything in its power to keep weight out of the top of the car until NASCAR stopped us. We used to dip our roof to reduce weight until NASCAR came up with a way of checking to see if a roof had been thinned out so we had to stop it. The Car of Tomorrow will take care of this problem because there's much more room for a driver to get out.

Speed Mail Larry McReynolds

Without beating people to pieces, the rescue and emergency workers at California Speedway didn't do a very good job. They stood there, seemingly saying, "Oh my gosh, he's on fire." And they watched it. They didn't get too carried away with putting out the fire or helping him out of there. It's almost like they were afraid to go near the car. I don't like beating up these people because they're there to help our drivers and our crew members, saving them in emergency situations. That's one thing that I've applauded over the last couple of years. NASCAR has worked with them because most emergency workers have promptly moved onto the scene. They have gotten much better, but that group was quite weak.


FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

Tagged: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Scott Riggs, Ricky Rudd, Kenny Wallace

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