News & Media

Earnhardt: New rule adds danger to plate racing

October 21, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- One of NASCAR's rule changes for Talladega Superspeedway will promote more swapping of positions, and more swapping means more potential danger, says Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In an effort to break up sustained two-car drafting, NASCAR lowered the pressure relief valve setting from 33 to 25 pounds per square inch. The net effect is that engines will begin to throw off water at lower temperatures.

Theoretically, that will make it more difficult for one car to push another lap after lap. The potential trouble lies in more frequent switching of positions in traffic, coupled with the closing rate of the tandem drafts. Typically, two cars linked together can run approximately 15 mph faster than a single car.

"Say you're working with your partner out there, and you've got to change more often," Earnhardt said Friday. "That's when it's going to get crazy, because you lose a lot of speed, and the guys that are not changing, that are behind you, come flying up on you really quick, and if they don't have a lot of room, and everybody doesn't know what's going on, bad things can happen.

"The change in the radiator to make us change more often -- I don't really see what we're trying to accomplish there and how that can bring about any good. I think that will just put us all in difficult situations."

Earnhardt, who has five Cup wins at Talladega, finished fourth here in April, pushing Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson to victory in a four-wide photo finish. Cars raced in tandem throughout the Aaron's 499, and NASCAR is looking to change that for Sunday's Good Sam Club 500.

Qualifying for the sixth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins at 12:15 p.m. ET Saturday.