Down with the horsepower: Dale Jr. says it’s coming, get used to it

Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (center) discusses what's happening under the hood with his No. 88 Chevrolet with crew chief Steve Letarte (left) and a crew member.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images for Texas Motor Spe

The subject of cutting horsepower in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues to be a hotly-debated topic.

Two weeks ago, NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton told FOXSports.com that the sanctioning body was looking at reducing horsepower from the current 860 or so by an unspecified amount. Multiple sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said horsepower could be cut to as little as 750 or even 725.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France confirmed the cuts were coming during an interview earlier this on Sirius/XM Radio, though he did not give a specific timetable for when it might happen.

Not surprisingly, drivers who spoke at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday had differing opinions about the possible cuts.

It’s kind of like the No. 3 coming back. A lot of people didn’t want it to come back. A lot of people were upset that it came back, but it’s coming back. I think the reduction in power is coming whether you like it or not.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a very pragmatic take about what’s going on with engines.

"They (NASCAR) are going to do it," Earnhardt said. "It’s kind of like the No. 3 coming back. A lot of people didn’€™t want it to come back. A lot of people were upset that it came back, but it’€™s coming back. I think the reduction in power is coming whether you like it or not."

And so Earnhardt said he’€™s opting to be proactive with NASCAR, giving his input. 

"I chose as an individual to get on the side of being productive in that discussion instead of saying we don’t need to do it and trying to fight it. Let’s try to make sure when it does happen we do it the right way and give ourselves something to grow into and something to engineers and something that is productive for many years to come," Earnhardt said. "It’s coming either way whether we like it or not."

What Earnhardt wants are smaller engines, not restrictor plates or tapered spacers.

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"When you can go to a smaller engine you preserve some throttle response," Earnhardt said. "You preserve some reaction in the gas pedal and give the driver a few more tools to be able to use out on the race track when he is driving his race car. When you put a plate on those cars you take tons of throttle response out of the car and setting up a pass, particularly on a track that is worn out like this. It’s a little more challenging with a plate rather than an open engine that is smaller."

Team Penske’s Joey Logano, meanwhile, said his gut feeling is that he’s not in favor of reducing the power.

"I’m all for more power," Logano said. "I think that’s like any guy, right? They just want more power, so anytime you hear someone talk about taking away power you’re not excited about it. I think something that’s cool about Sprint Cup racing is we’ve got 850-900 horsepower in these things. That’s pretty badass, so I obviously want to make sure we have that."

Logano did allow as how the key determinant was making the races entertaining.

"We’ve just got to make sure we put on a great race for the fans, whether we have three horsepower or 900 horsepower — make sure it’€™s a great race," Logano said. "If that’s the direction we have to go to put on a better race, then so be it. At the same time, I’m not sure if that will be the answer or not, but we have to look at every option we have and figure out what we’ve got to do to make it the best."