NASCAR

NASCAR makes change to fight heat

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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for FOXSports.com. She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.

To keep the action heated at Daytona, NASCAR is attempting to keep the engines cool.

NASCAR has made a change to the Sprint Cup cars to help teams with overheating issues that have cropped up at Daytona International Speedway.

On Wednesday, officials raised the pressure relief valve setting from 25 to 28 pounds per square inch to help the cars with the cooling process. Some cars had overheating issues Saturday night in the Budweiser Shootout. With temperatures expected to reach close to 80 degrees on Wednesday, adjusting the PRV was a welcomed change for engine builders and competitors.

“Hopefully, it will help keep water in when we’re racing tight in the pack so they can push longer,” said Danny Lawrence, Earnhardt Childress Racing trackside manager. “When all the cars were out there, it was a limited field the other night and the drivers still lost water.

“It’s definitely a benefit for everybody to be able to race and not watch their water temperature gauge the whole time.”

Following the Shootout, Denny Hamlin said his engine was “pegged on 300 (degrees) all day long” which limited his ability “to get up in there and mix it up” like he wanted to.

Certainly, the pair of practice sessions Wednesday will offer a better indication as to how the cars will perform with the new configuration. It’s unlikely, however, that tandem racing similar to what drivers experienced last year will return.

Lawrence is pleased with the ECR cooling systems “so far,” but says there was no way his engines could run at those temperatures. The ECR engines pop off at 265 degrees.

“The Fords actually seem to be able to run slightly higher temperatures than everyone else,” Lawrence said. “When you get up to 265-270, the power levels start to go away in the engine really bad. You’re not going to see anyone race at 300. That’s not going to happen. Keeping water in them, they’ll be able to push longer. But, still, with what NASCAR’s doing with the front end of the cars, it’s going to be limited (to) how long a driver can push.

“There is a sweet spot where you can hang on the outside — and that was one of the reasons we saw so many wrecks. If you can get a little bit of air in there, you can push for a long, long time, but it’s really dangerous to go into the corner pushing on a guy. You’re on thin ice pretty much.”

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