The Callahan Report: NASCAR Takes Swift Action...Fords Lose Downforce
2 March 1998
By Terry Callahan
DAYTONA BEACH, FL: As soon as the checkered flag
dropped on the inaugural running of the Las Vegas 400 NASCAR race, the
tempers of Pontiac and Chevy racing teams boiled over.
The new Ford Taurus had walked away with 13 of the top 14 finishing
positions. NASCAR stars like Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte, and Jeff
Gordon had all been beaten by lesser known names in the sport.
The Auto Channel
In less than 24 hours after the Las Vegas Four-Hundred (or is that Ford-Hundred?), NASCAR has stepped in and leveled the playing field. The Winston Cup sanctioning body announced today rules changes which will be effective immediately.
The Primestar 500 in Atlanta this Sunday will see the downforce reduced for the Ford Taurus and the Ford Thunderbird. The Taurus rear spoiler will be reduced in height from 5 inches to 4.75 inches. The Thunderbird rear spoiler, which is currently at 4.75 inches, will be reduce to 4.5 inches. The Thunderbird is being phased out but a few of the NASCAR teams are still using the outdated bodywork.
NASCAR believes the reduced surface area on the rear spoiler will reduce the downforce in the corners. The result should be a slower Ford Taurus. The Chevy Monte Carlo will keeps its 5 inch rear spoiler. The Pontiac spoilers will also remain unchanged (5.375 inches).
NASCAR will monitor the competitiveness of the racing teams at the Primestar 500 to determine if further rules changes will be necessary. The front air-dam clearance is another area which effects downforce. For now, air-dams will be unchanged on all models racing in NASCAR's top series.
The first race of the NASCAR season was the Daytona 500. Aerodynamics are not "played with" at Daytona and Talladega (AL). Speeds at those high banked tracks are controlled using restrictor plates. Dale Earnhardt was the winner at Daytona in his Chevy Monte Carlo.
Dale Earnhardt, 1998 Daytona 500 Champion
Jeff Gordon: Could be on his way to 3rd championship
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