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Rodman: Truex says Daytona time trials at 200-plus mph 'fun to see'

November 17, 2011, Dave Rodman,

Lally to 'stand on principal,' won't race at Homestead; St. Louis honors Wallace

Tandem racing has turned off a certain number of Sprint Cup racing fans, and while an exact number is open to debate, one thing might get them excited.

How about a 205-plus mph qualifying lap for the Daytona 500?

"I honestly think that it would be a lot more fun for everybody if we could see big numbers put up on qualifying day," Martin Truex Jr. said Tuesday after a day of testing at Daytona International Speedway in which he opined "it would take us going 220 miles per hour to make these cars uncomfortable in a two-car draft, and then the cars fly -- and that's no good.

"I tell you what, it's a whole lot more fun than going 185 qualifying around here -- that's so boring, you know? "


"[After qualifying] we'd put the smaller plate on and go race, because obviously [with the bigger plate] we'd be going too fast. But it'd be fun -- definitely more fun for us and for the fans. I think they'd think it was cool to see those numbers."

A seven-car test this week at Daytona proved that two-car tandem drafting will never completely go away. But the biggest exclamation point -- provided by 200-plus single-car runs by Joe Nemechek, Joey Logano and Truex -- could inject some life into one of the most deadly-boring periods in the Sprint Cup season, Daytona 500 pole qualifying day.

Unofficially, since no electronic timing was available, Nemechek turned a lap in 44.2 seconds; an average speed of 203.619 mph. Truex said Logano made a lap in 44.30 seconds, which computes to 203.160.

Truex said his single lap was 44.77 seconds, an average of 201.027 mph, and that he was having so much fun, he would've continued "but I had to come in because the car was bottoming-out so much -- it was just laying on the ground because it was going a lot faster than what it was set up to do."

Truex said that single-car lap equaled the lap time he and Logano had managed with a small spoiler in a two-car tandem, which typically is much faster than cars can travel by themselves.

Mark Martin is the only full-time Sprint Cup competitor who was active when the entire 43-car field at Talladega qualified at better than 200 mph; and when the Daytona (210.364 mph) and Talladega (212.809) track qualifying records were set.

But Nemechek and Truex saw and felt enough Tuesday to strongly suggest NASCAR should look at making a one-day exemption to the 200 mph embargo.

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"It was cool," Truex said of his flyer, which was done with NASCAR's blessing. "I tell you what, it's a whole lot more fun than going 185 qualifying around here -- that's so boring, you know? That [201] was actually pretty fun and I think it would be fun for qualifying."

Truex's lap was done with a one-and-a-16th-inch restrictor plate -- much larger than the 29/32nds plate used for the rest of the test; and with the smallest spoiler used Tuesday, a "tiny" three-inch-high blade that was curved to fit the rear decklid of his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.

Sprint Cup Series director John Darby hedged on the possibility of doing such a move just for qualifying, but there's a chance he was thinking too "old school."

"There's a lot of mechanics and operational things that you also have to address in terms of the teams' abilities to react to two different size plates that are extremely different," said Darby. "It's typical in today's world for us to change a restrictor plate during an event. But the change in the size is usually pretty minimal, right? So those are all things we just got to look at. As long as we're here, we just felt it worthy to do the experiment."

Truex, however, was adamant that, as NASCAR's premier event, Daytona 500 qualifying should be "extra special." And it was his contention current technology, specifically the Electronic Fuel Injection systems that were also tested Tuesday and will be in use all of 2012, could handle it.

Nemechek, after his hot lap, said he saw a qualifying session in which speeds could range "from 203 to 208 miles per hour."

"Here's the thing -- I think with the fuel injection, this is gonna be easier," Truex said. "They have these [computerized] fuel maps, and they have a map for a 29/32nds restrictor plate, an inch and a 16th restrictor plate -- whatever it is.

"So it's not like you've got to take the whole carburetor apart and rebuild it or change the whole carburetor and all that. You just change that fuel map when you change the plate, and let 'er eat. The fans could say, 'look at these boys going over 200 miles an hour,' and I think it would be awesome."

Watch: Truex's 2011 Cup Series highlights

Lally on sidelines at Homestead

Andy Lally, who has put in nearly a full season with TRG Motorsports and in the process, earned the 2011 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Award, confirmed Wednesday afternoon "I had to put my foot down and stand on principle," which included a decision not to race the No. 71 Ford this weekend.

Lally, who declined to go into any more detail, said he hoped to announce his future plans soon. A short time later, a NASCAR Competition bulletin placed Mike Bliss, who was originally entered at Homestead in FAS Lane Racing's No. 32 Ford, into the No. 71. Bliss has three career starts for TRG owner Kevin Buckler, including the team's best finish in 105 starts, ninth in the 2010 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

Stoddard confirmed via text message that T.J. Bell, who's made four starts in 14 attempts this season, including one DNQ, at Talladega, in a second TRG car; would drive the No. 32, which is a guaranteed starter at Homestead. Bliss will have to qualify the No. 71, which is 37th in Sprint Cup owners' points, on time as a go-or-go-home entrant.

Homestead: Cup Entry List | Chase clinch scenarios | 2012 Schedule | 2012 Tickets

Rusty Wallace gets state acclaim

St. Louis, Mo., native Rusty Wallace was honored by his hometown this week as an inductee into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame. Alongside Wallace, the 1989 Cup Series champion and a current Nationwide Series team owner and ESPN NASCAR analyst in the class of 2011 are 15 sports figures, including St. Louis Rams legends Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, as well as coaching icons Lenny Wilkens and Scotty Bowman.

Wallace and company join the likes of such St. Louis legends as Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Yogi Berra and Ozzie Smith as former inductees into the St. Louis Hall.

The 2011 class was chosen from a pool of 350 qualified nominees, with induction determined through ballots issued to 120 media members and former athletes. It mark's the latest local honor for Wallace, who won hundreds of short track races while based in the St. Louis area.

In 2005, Wallace was presented the key to the City of St. Louis, with the mayor proclaiming June 30, 2005 as Rusty Wallace Day in the Gateway City. Wallace was enshrined in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2006, he became the 14th individual to be named a "Missouri Sports Legend," the Missouri Hall's highest honor.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.