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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
Brian Scott. (Picture Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team battled back from a bad re-start after the first caution of the race to finish 17th in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Campbell Marketing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Former racing driver Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton pose during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
A general view as cars pit during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with his team after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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