Drivers voice opinions on engine change talk
April 25, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson chime in on discussion
RICHMOND, Va. -- NASCAR Executive Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell reiterated this week the sanctioning body's plans to develop a new engine package for next season -- with modifications to horsepower, the aero package and Goodyear's tire compounds, or a combination of all three -- are under consideration.
Drivers responded to the situation Friday at Richmond International Raceway and offered their opinions on the technical avenues NASCAR should take in the always-evolving effort to keep its racing product exciting.
And as you might expect, the views varied, especially when the issue of reducing the horsepower in engines was raised.
"I could not be more excited that they are considering the whole package,'' Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards said. "When I first heard the horsepower change, I thought, 'Oh man, this is not going to be good.'
"But to read the comments and see the word aerodynamics in there. I have worn them out. They roll their eyes when I start talking about less downforce, but I really believe it doesn't matter if we have 500 horsepower if we don't have aerodynamic influence it allows Goodyear to build softer tires and make the racing more dynamic.
"There would be guys with old tires, worn out tires and you could race closer. I feel like if they approach it the way they say they are going to, it is going to be great."
Other drivers say they are taking a more cautious approach -- even acknowledging they have strong feelings and preferences.
"Good luck with that from a changing the rules standpoint,'' the season's only two-time winner Kevin Harvick, adding sarcastically with a laugh, "Obviously, I'm a big fan of it."
O'Donnell said this week that the sanctioning body has already met with teams at the NASCAR Research & Development Center to discuss potential changes.
He told the Des Moines Register newspaper NASCAR was in the "tweaking" stage and not ready to make any formal announcement yet.
"So we are all trying as drivers and members of the sport to say what is best for the racing,'' said six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. "If it's reduction in power that makes competitive racing, I think we are all more than willing to get on board and to go down that road.
"We are going to go and work to change all the internals to maximize the role that the ending performs. So I sympathize with NASCAR because there isn't an easy way to go about things.''