News & Media

NASCAR offers teams pressure valve concession

February 22, 2012, Dave Rodman,

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- After teams experienced some overheating engines in various drafting formations last weekend in the practices leading up to Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout -- which continued in the race itself -- NASCAR made a technical change Wednesday morning at Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR told the teams they would be given three more pounds on the engines' pressure release valves, from 25 to 28 pounds per square inch. NASCAR will continue to monitor engine water temperatures and might make additional adjustments after Thursday's Duel, several sources said.

"That's just a good thing for us [because] it increased the boiling temp about 5 degrees, basically," Roush Yates Engines head Doug Yates said. "That's always a concern because when you do run hot, you want that protection and that limit to be a little bit higher."

Yates said the teams in his charge didn't get much chance to feel its effects Wednesday in two 90-minute practice sessions for Thursday's Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying races, however.

"Some of the guys were out there pushing each other around a little bit, they watched the water boil off and they watched the temperature gauge go up," Yates said. "But at the same time, it's practice. The guys aren't going to push it and they don't want to end up tearing up a car."

Protecting cars is one thing, but another consideration would be the variable weather conditions, from relatively cool last Saturday night during the Budweiser Shootout, to in the 70s for Wednesday's practices to a forecast of highs in the mid-80s for Thursday.

"It drives us extremely wild," Yates said. "It's always the most recent memory of a race, and the problem we had at Talladega with the [Roush Fenway Racing] 6 car. We lost an engine in the 6 car -- overheated it, basically -- and that's fresh on our minds and why I say any change in pressure in the system is good for us."

Probably the most graphic example of risk versus reward that's played out in the Duel was demonstrated in 2011. Trevor Bayne had a potential race-winning car in his Duel, but he wrecked with Jeff Gordon at the very end. His Wood Brothers' team fixed the car and Bayne won the Daytona 500.

Sunday, Eddie Wood said his team would approach Thursday's first Duel no differently. Most teams queried felt the information that needed to be gained by racing legitimately in the Duel outweighed holding back. Pole winner Carl Edwards said his crew chief would make the call on how hard he ran in the first Duel, after pronouncing himself satisfied with his car after 24 laps in Practice 1, the only session he ran.

"I think it depends on Bob Osborne ... how much he can stomach," Edwards said. "Just in practice [Wednesday] I started having a little bit of fun out there and I think it made him a little bit nervous. I think it would probably be entertaining to tune into Bob and our radio conversation [Thursday].

"For me, this might sound dumb but I am not too worried about if we crash the car. We have a good backup car and it is identical and should be just as fast. I think there is value in learning something from that 150. I think you are going to learn things you can apply the last five laps at the [Daytona] 500 that could make a difference."

Edwards said any discretionary decisions would be made when he had to.

"I would like to race pretty hard in that 150," Edwards said. "Obviously, if it gets really crazy then maybe I would think about trying to give myself more room but right now the mission is to go race and learn."

Brad Keselowski's crew chief, Paul Wolfe, agreed.

"You've got to be as smart as you can but at the same time, we're here to race," Wolfe said of the risk-reward factor in the Duel. "You've got to limit your risk the best you can. We have a strategy that we feel like will put us in the least amount of risk but knowing that's still there we're prepared to have a backup car for Sunday if we need to."