NASCAR changes rules for
(Mar. 6, 2000)
Chevrolet's Winston Cup teams will be allowed to extend
their front air dams two inches forward below the bumper on their 2000 Monte Carlos
beginning with Sunday's Cracker Barrel 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
NASCAR announced the rule change late Monday afternoon.
Mike Helton, NASCAR's chief operating officer, said the
change is aimed at helping Chevrolet teams achieve better aerodynamic balance on their
"When we had the cars in the wind tunnel we experimented
with this and we found it helped the balance," Helton said. "It's not a huge
change but it's a change that will help them a little bit, which is what we're thinking
they need to balance the car out."
Monday's rule change allows Chevrolet teams to add a two-inch
extension beginning at the current position of the front bumper. The alteration was among
those tested when NASCAR took cars to the wind tunnel in Marietta, Ga., after each of the
season's first two races.
The front air dam extension appears to be an intermediate
step between no change and the new longer Monte Carlo nose teams have been lobbying for.
Chevrolet teams have contended through the season's first
three races that their new model, as approved by NASCAR, has too much of its downforce on
the rear end and not enough on the front. That combination creates lift on the nose of the
car, reducing traction on the front tires. In turn, that makes it harder to turn the Monte
Carlo in the corners of the race track, a condition referred to as pushing.
"I think we're pretty even with them in the back,"
Richard Childress, owner of the Chevrolets driven by Dale Earnhardt and Mike Skinner, said
Sunday after the CarsDirect.com 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "I think we're
pretty even with them on the back."
Earnhardt finished eighth in Sunday's race, the best among
Chevrolets. Fords have won twice and Pontiacs once this season, and Earnhardt's
second-place finish at Rockingham a week earlier is the new Monte Carlo's only top-five
finish so far this year.
Helton said NASCAR believes the season's first three races
have shown that the Monte Carlo's aerodynamic push is a real problem that gets worse on
long green-flag runs, and that Monday's change is aimed at helping fix that.
"We know what this does to the car and it's not a
lot," he said. "It will help with the balance of the car on long runs.
effort was to help Chevy get its balance right to able to race the whole race."
Felix Sabates, who owns the Chevrolets driven by Sterling
Marlin and Kenny Irwin, applauded NASCAR's decision to make a change before the Atlanta
"This is a Band-Aid, not a cure," he said,
"but it shows that NASCAR is doing the right thing. I give NASCAR a lot of credit for
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