Racing gets worse with softer tires, less downforce

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Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip — winner of 84 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and a three-time champion — serves as lead analyst for NASCAR on FOX. He was selected for induction into the prestigious NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012. Want more from DW? Become a fan on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

The teams will run a different tire at Bristol than they've run in the past. I didn't get to talk to about his test there, but there's always some concern when you roll out a new tire. As I've said in this column a million times, for the life of me, I can't understand why NASCAR is messing with the cars and asked Goodyear to change the tires. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. Last year's tires were dependable. I just never thought I'd hear the day that guys would say the tires were too good and then they took downforce off the cars. Downforce is a driver's best friend. I've never been an advocate of those changes, and NASCAR may prove me wrong. I hope I am wrong, but we haven't seen any indication that the changes have made racing any better than it was last year. Three cautions at Atlanta for debris and a blown engine? I thought one of the best races that we ever had at Las Vegas was LAST year when we had more side-by-side racing and guys were running high and low all over the track. This year, it was back to follow-the-leader.
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When the tires start to go off the car, it doesn't put anything back in the drivers' hands. It takes away maneuverability. If the tires lose grip, or your car won't stick to the track, I don't care how great he is, a driver can't do anything about it. I just don't see where the changes have benefitted anybody or paid any dividends. NASCAR would have been better off if it kept working on the package it had. I've said it over and over again. They need to reduce the horsepower. What's wrong with the cars? They don't need wider tires as I have read. They need less horsepower. They're turning the engines at 9,500 rpms. They're making 800-plus horsepower. If you're going to keep making that kind of power with the engine combination they have right now, you need drag tires because that's really what the cars are. They're just aerodynamically-created drag cars with as much power as a dragster.

For better racing, Cup should drive trucks

The Busch cars and the trucks run a 390 carburetor, and while I'm on the subject of trucks, what better example do you need of what makes good racing than the Craftsman Truck Series? The trucks and cars have the same engine, but the truck has so much aero drag -- in other words it's so hard to push through the wind -- it makes for great racing. They handle great and have a lot of downforce with a big nine-inch spoiler sticking up on the back. They're driver friendly, and the drivers can run side-by-side. It's some of the best racing anywhere the series goes. Why don't we keep working on the cars to make them more like the trucks? With some of my comments, it's hear me now and believe me later, but they ought to race trucks, particularly at Daytona and Talladega. They could do away with the restrictor plate and roll out a Chevrolet Silverado with 's No. 24 paint job on it. What do you care if it's a car or a truck as long as it's good racing? I know UPS would be happy. They would just have a little brown truck instead of the Big Brown Truck. NASCAR needs to take the numbers from the trucks and match them up to the cars. I don't care if they have to run a snow plow on the front of them. Then they could have good racing.

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