13 January 2010
Edwards urges NASCAR to ditch downforce
Carl Edwards: "I know it's not a popular opinion. I brought that up in those town hall meetings, and people would think I'm crazy, but let's race. This isn't IndyCar racing. It isn't F1. We're not supposed to be racing like that."
Carl Edwards is fine with substantive design and rule changes NASCAR is contemplating - most notably a switch from a wing to a blade spoiler on the Sprint Cup car.
Edwards, however, would like to see the spoiler as short as possible and downforce at a minimum.
"I'd much rather have no downforce," Edwards said Saturday during an appearance at the Sound & Speed charity event at the Municipal Auditorium. "I was beating up on (NASCAR vice president of competition) Robin Pemberton to make that spoiler about an inch high, just something to keep the rear end from coming off the ground.
"That'd be fine with me. If that's the direction we're going, then I'm 100 percent all for it. You can soften the tyres then, you can drive the car sideways, you'd theoretically be able to handle behind someone because you aren't relying on downforce as much -- I think all those things are good."
Edwards made his feelings known during a recent series of meetings between race teams and NASCAR brass.
"I know it's not a popular opinion," Edwards said. "I brought that up in those town hall meetings, and people would think I'm crazy, but let's race. This isn't IndyCar racing. It isn't F1. We're not supposed to be racing like that. I'm fine with spinning the tyres all the way around the racetrack.
"I told them to fix Talladega by putting a sprinkler up and spray water on the track."
The return to a spoiler - one larger than Edwards says he'd like to see - likely will come by mid-April, after a full-field test at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Easter 'off' week for the Cup series. If NASCAR's willingness to consider implementing a significant design change on its Cup car is a departure from business as usual, so, Edwards believes, is the sanctioning body's active pursuit of input from its major stakeholders.
"The bottom line of that meeting was that we're all in this together," Edwards said. "That's cool, to have (NASCAR chairman and CEO) Brian France and (president) Mike Helton and (senior vice president) Steve O'Donnell and all these guys sitting there and saying, 'Look, we're in this together. What do you guys think? How can we do this the right way? How can we deliver the best product to fans?' That's what that meeting was about, and that means a lot.
"I have a lot of respect for folks when they say, 'Hey, look, we need some ideas here. We don't know everything. What do you guys think?' That's pretty cool for someone like NASCAR to step back and say that. I've only been doing this for a little while, but I haven't had very many of those meetings. It's pretty cool. It's like they said at the meeting - and we got a little chuckle out of this - they said they're always going to be the government, they're always going to be the police in the sport. But at the same time, I think it's very smart of them, very big of them to ask our opinions."
Edwards, whose car became airborne after contact with race winner Brad Keselowski's Chevrolet and slammed into the catch fence on the final lap at Talladega last April, also favours a contemplated change that would allow drivers to race below the yellow line within sight of the flagstand on the final lap at Talladega and Daytona.
"We talked a lot about that with Mike Helton the other day," Edwards said. "I think Matt Kenseth said it the best in the meeting. He said he thinks that yellow-line rule is a good rule for most of the race, because it keeps people above that slowdown area. It gives people a lane to slow down if they have a problem. Also you can't see through the cars. So I have a feeling that, if we didn't have that yellow-line rule, we'd be down in the grass an awful lot, even if we didn't mean to be.
"What we told NASCAR - I think what we all kind of told them from Roush Fenway's driver side - is the yellow-line deal is good, but I personally like, and I think my teammates like, when you can see the chequered flag, anything goes. That's kind of fun. We're already wrecking every time. We might as well get to shoot for the grass, go for it.
"I hope they'll go back to that. I think coming to the chequered flag needs to just be a race, no holds barred."
by Reid Spencer / Sporting News
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