Cut Down the Banking at Daytona and Talladega?

               July 2009                         Dale Wilkerson

               For all of you NASCAR fans that have said NASCAR should cut the banking down in the corners at the Daytona International Speedway, and the Talladega Super Speedway, how did you like the Brickyard 400 Sunday?

                If it had not been for the double file restarts, we would not have seen hardly any side-by-side racing. Yes we witnessed unrestricted speeds, as the radar guns clocked cars at 205 miles per hour heading in to turns one and three, but close racing was pretty much two car lengths apart.

                Perhaps the best side-by-side battle all day was between Juan Montoya and Joey Logano. Montoya had the field covered.  He had his Target Chevrolet of Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing on target, as he led a race high 116 laps. On a late pit stop, NASCAR clocked Montoya speeding on pit road, which cost this former Indianapolis 500 winner a chance at winning the Brickyard 400. 

                As Logano and Montoya battled for eleventh and twelfth place, they leaned on each other like they were racing at Bristol. Even though these two frailed on each other’s cars, they settled down and both crossed the finish line.

                For years, race fans have wanted NASCAR to do something, so we can see un-restricted racing at the two, all-time, fastest speedways on the circuit. As for me, cutting down the banking at Daytona and Talladega would ruin both of these facilities.

                Let’s think about it, engineers would look at the numbers, take field trips to both tracks, take a look at other 2.5 mile tracks (Indianapolis and Pocono), comply data as to ascertain the highest degree of banking, to allow for high speed racing, while at the same time keeping the average speeds reached to under 193 miles per hour, and then the bulldozers will get to work.

                Daytona would be cut down from 31 degrees of banking to 11.678 degrees of banking. It would be determined that since this track is narrow, the corners should not be steeper. Talladega would be cut down from 33 degrees of banking in the corners to 8 degrees.  It would be determined that since this track is so wide, the corners should be flatter, so drivers will not take a chance and drive in the corners to fast.

                The tri-oval section, the front stretch that really has the fifth turn at both of these tracks, would be flattened out to a mere six degrees of banking, because a driver in an unrestricted car should think about picking his foot up off the accelerator. If the tri-oval section is left too steep, drivers would then be carrying too much speed into the now flat corners. 

                Yes what we would have at Daytona and Talladega would be races that looked a lot like the Brickyard 400 Sunday. There would be years when the flattened Daytona and Talladega races would look like last year’s Brickyard 400. Tires blowing out due to track problems or car set ups getting to crazy with right side chamber.

                No, I don’t like the restrictor plates, but after seeing Carl Edwards and his Ford Fusion take flight at Talladega, and realizing how close Kyle Busch and his Toyota came to getting into the fence at Daytona, there is no way we will ever see a NASCAR Sprint Cup race without the restrictor plates ever again.

Well I guess they could hold an unsanctioned, non-point’s race, more less a ‘Run What You Brung’ race at Talladega, sell NO tickets for the grandstands and put the race on pay-per-view. That would set a record for pay-per-view television, but might also set a bad precedent for race fans. Could you imagine some or all NASCAR events on pay-per-view? This would be bad.  

                Something needs to done with the racing at Daytona and Talladega. Drivers have pushed the envelope too far over the years at both of these speed plants. Drivers racing below the yellow line caused the current rule that is why Carl Edwards tore down the fence at Talladega. Drivers also got crazy racing back to the line over the years, and that is why when the caution waves now, the race slows right then, not back at the line.

                In the late 80’s drivers began to push harder on pit road, which is why we have the pit road speed limits now. The pit crews have gotten faster and faster every year, that is why the number off crewmen allowed over the wall has gotten smaller over the years.

                NASCAR has made changes over the years to improve safety and to make for better racing. With the two flat 2.5-mile tracks being back to back each summer, NASCAR has a constant reminder of what not to do at Daytona and Talladega.

                At Indy and Pocono there are fans that will tell you the racing can’t be any better than what they see each year. Even though Indy had a lot of empty seats, Tony George and family still sells more tickets than most tracks on the schedule. Pocono will have over 100,000 there this Sunday.

                Yes, those straight-a-way speeds at Indy and Pocono are impressive, but for the fans and crews at Daytona and Talladega, can y’all run three wide in the corners without testing the safer barriers? I think not.

                When it comes to the 2.5 mile oval tracks, and 2.66-miles at Talladega, I want the corners banked, restricted or not, stock cars need banking, banking sells tickets, ticket sales lead to other forms of banking, the kind that is approved by the FDLIC.