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NASCAR looking to limit XFINITY tandem drafting

NASCAR looking to limit XFINITY tandem drafting

NASCAR implemented rule changes two years ago in its Sprint Cup Series aimed at limiting the action known as tandem drafting, the ability for two cars to lock up and advance past another competitor.

Changes now are being considered to halt the activity for the XFINITY Series after a one-day test at Daytona International Speedway July 2.

"You no longer see that in the Sprint Cup Series and that's what we wanted to try and accomplish," XFINITY Series Director Wayne Auton told NASCAR.com. "We stayed in Daytona and tested several things to make sure two XFINITY Series cars can't lock up. Then NASCAR doesn't have to try and police the cars locking bumpers in an effort to beat another competitor.

"We have a rule that says two cars cannot lock bumpers in an effort to push another car. As we saw in the past, the Sprint Cup cars used to be able to push, but the aerodynamics of their cars today don't allow them to do that.

"We're trying to get our cars more like the Sprint Cup cars to where they can't lock bumpers."

NASCAR outlawed the practice of tandem drafting, the process of two cars hooking up nose-to-tail to increase overall speed, by implementing changes that affected engine cooling, thus increasing the likelihood of overheating the engines if the practice continued.

Cars still use the draft, run nose-to-tail with minimal or no contact to advance, but they are not allowed to lock onto the back of another car and push the car in front around the track.

Auton called policing the practice of locking up "the hardest thing I've ever done at a race track by far.

"There's a way we can fix the cars after what we saw Sunday to not have to worry about it, go back to Daytona and have great racing," he said.

Officials worked with three drivers and teams at Daytona during the four-hour test – Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota), Ryan Blaney (Team Penske No. 22 Ford) and Brandon Jones (Richard Childress Racing No. 33 Chevrolet).

"You can find out a lot about the aero package with just three cars," Auton said. "The way we did the test, we had two cars that went out and tried to hook up with the aero packages that we put on them. And we had another car with all kinds of devices on it to see what the air was actually doing with the car.

"We then took all that off and put all three cars out there together. We found that the third car is very instrumental in getting the second car to the car up front.

"The drivers could tell you whether it was possible to get locked up. We put the spoiler on that we ran Friday night with one of the configurations on the front end and it didn't take them two seconds to get locked up.

"We put a device on the front and reduced the spoiler on the rear end and they couldn't get locked up. So you don't need a lot of cars."

Specific changes likely won't be announced until the 2017 rules package for the XFINITY Series is unveiled, but it is possible that some of what was learned during the test could be implemented across the board for the series. NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series rules package, which features a reduction in downforce, has improved competition and XFINITY Series teams appear willing to go down a similar road.

The XFINITY series will not compete in a restrictor-plate race again until it returns to Daytona in February 2017.

"I'm pretty confident that it was a very successful test," Auton said. "With everything we threw at it, we found out a lot of information about our cars in four hours.

"We made multiple, multiple runs. Mid-30 to 40-lap runs (again and again) on the race track to accomplish the goals we had. The drivers hardly ever got out of the cars."

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