THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business - May '15

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PERFORMANCE When we talked privately with engine builders, they still protected their team secrets, but would talk on general terms. The main areas they are looking at is redi- recting air inside the intake and heads, and looking at resizing valves and ports for optimum flow. Builders are still learning the "sensitiv- ity to changes" of virtually every compo- nent to the new engine setup, and that includes continuing valve train concerns such as valve spring life and function as they interact with more aggressive and unique cam designs. Teams are looking for faster opening of the valves to help, and they know ramping up the cam profile seems to assist in that. Another area they are already work- ing with is header length. For years, they would adjust that spec to each track for optimization of the power band. Now, they will need to explore new options for exhaust ports and headers. It was much like Jack Roush told us when NASCAR reduced compression ratios; what sounds like a simple change is anything but. That one change affects the entire dynamics of the engine and pretty much every component needs to be examined for factors such as perfect fit and function, longevity and any improvements that can add to the overall performance of the motor. "I think one point is that this isn't a horsepower-regulated series," Yates added. "I think most people know that, but they don't test the engines to make sure they make a certain amount of power. The engine shops are free to work on those engines and if you get an advantage, you get to keep that advantage. I think that's something that may sound a little obvious, but it has come up and we need to make sure that's understood by our fans." Yates' father, NASCAR legend Robert Yates, pushed the smaller engine idea years ago. "He was a big proponent of less power and smaller engines and more production- based engines," said Doug Yates. "I would say he was ahead of his time on this one for sure. For an engine builder, talking about less power isn't a very popular subject. It's our job to continue to make more—we love more and more power. But at the end of the day, this is a competition and it's a sport and it's probably not wise for these cars to be running around at some of the speeds we are at the tracks we're running. So, I think in order to make a step forward for the sport, this is one of the moves that Brian France and NASCAR feel is a step in the right direc- tion and we'll see how it goes. It's time to go to work now and we'll see. I think this year has been really great from a competi- tion standpoint, so the guys are doing some really good things. This is the next phase for NASCAR and we're on board." Searching for Stability The new rules package also includes changes for body and chassis that are designed to make the cars more competitive. A shorter rear spoiler reduces the bad air that sometimes makes passing more difficult. Another change to the front of the car aids in a better balance, and that always equates to better han- dling. One more unique change is putting the adjustment of the rear Panhard bar in the hands of the driver, so chassis changes can be made during racing instead of waiting for pit stops. Across the board, the rules were created to make for better racing and reduce the costs of that better racing. "It's been really positive," NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell said following initial test- ing before the season. "This really started over a year ago with the test at Charlotte. We've tested a number of things, including the horsepower in the race cars, and what we learned from there was that, coupled with the aero package, they really made a huge difference. And when we looked at that through a lot of computer simulations and worked with the race teams—we got a lot of great science and a lot of great input from the industry—we landed in a really good spot as we head into 2015." The races held under the new rules so far have shown improvement with more passing for the lead. The trend should con- tinue as teams and drivers adjust for what is basically a new car to race. More to Come NASCAR's new package won't stop in 2015, though. Through a number of conversations with our sources, we learned teams will likely face another power-down in 2016 as well. The numbers of how much more power will be reduced won't be announced for a few months. And looking in that direction, will the reduced power get to the point where we see the end of restrictor plates at those big tracks? 30 n Performance & Hotrod Business n May 2015

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