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Texas to be the Spoiler Proving Ground

With the Spoiler Back Will More Exciting Racing Follow?

They are just pieces of sheet metal. About 4 inches high, 3/16ths of an inch thick, 64 inches long, straight across the top. But a lot of eyes will be trained on them this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway because a lot of hopes are being attached to them.

Spoilers—oddly named because many in and around NASCAR are praying they will be saviors—get the test that millions have been waiting for in Sunday's Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup Series race.

Among those millions are 40-some drivers.

“I'm a little perplexed about it,” Jeff Burton said of racing on a 1.5-mile track for the first time—again—with a spoiler, “and really am looking forward to seeing what happens this weekend because I think it will be a great learning experience.”

Spoilers have been reintroduced to the Cup cars in hopes they will produce better racing—that is, racing with more passing, more side-by-side competition and more lead changes. They have replaced the rear wings, which were the signature physical feature of the Cars of Tomorrow.

Spoilers have been used in two tests on 1.5-mile tracks—Texas and Charlotte—and in the past three races. But tests are not races, and the past three races were at short tracks Bristol, Martinsville and Phoenix.

After each of the tests and races, drivers of the spoiler-clad cars were pulled aside and asked: Well?

The standard answer has been: Wait until race day at Texas. Spoilers are more important on bigger tracks because more grip is needed to provide stability at faster speeds.

“This will finally be the test, the real test that is, of the NASCAR-mandated change to the (rear) deck spoiler from the old wing configuration,” said Howard Comstock of Dodge Motorsports Engineering. “We've run the spoiler on the 95 mph Martinsville track, and we've run the spoiler on the 130 mph Phoenix track, but none of that will have prepared anybody for the effect we'll see on the 190 mph Texas Motor Speedway. It will be interesting.”

So, next week, NASCAR-types will be able to talk in certain terms about the return to the vertical blades and their effect on the quality of racing on the sport's most prevalent type of track—15 of the series' 36 races are on intermediate tracks (1.5- and 2-mile ovals).

But that did not stop competitors from offering up hopes and predictions about spoilers on speedways this week.

Burton was a high-hoper.

“The biggest thing I'm interested in is what happens when you get behind another car,” said Burton, a two-time winner at Texas. “There were times on Saturday night (at Phoenix) that I thought it was harder to pass with the spoiler. (Yet) we passed more cars than I ever remember passing there. ... So part of me says, 'Wow, it seemed like it was hard to pass.' But the evidence says I passed a tremendous amount of cars.”




Related Pictures

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Spoiler
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, September 28, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Johnson advances to the Contender 12 phase of the Chase which begins next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS races to win Sunday, September 28, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Gordon advances to the Contender 12 phase of the Chase which begins next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory with his daughter, Ella Sofia Sunday, September 28, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Gordon advances to the Contender 12 phase of the Chase which begins next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory win Sunday, September 28, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Gordon advances to the Contender 12 phase of the Chase which begins next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, races Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, leads Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick drives the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet back to pit road after cutting a tyre during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, lead the field to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare/Project Pink Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 27, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, Driver of the #51 Toyota Care Toyota takes the chequered flag to win the Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 27, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, Driver of the #51Toyota Care Toyota celebrates winning the Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 27, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The green flag waves at the start of the Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 27, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway on September 27, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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