NASCAR makes rule change after McMurray's car goes airborne at Talladega
Mike Hembree, USA TODAY Published 6:30 p.m. ET April 27, 2018
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TALLADEGA, Ala. – Increased speeds and a flying race car led NASCAR officials to change rules prior to qualifying for Sunday’s GEICO 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
The engine restrictor plates that limit fuel flow will be decreased from 7/8 of a inch to 55/64 of an inch, a small change but one that is expected to cut speeds by as much as three miles per hour.
The change was announced after Jamie McMurray’s car lifted into the air during an afternoon practice and went into a series of violent flips after landing. McMurray had just recorded the practice session’s fastest lap – 203.975 miles per hour – before the crash.
McMurray lost control of his car after its left rear tire failed, apparently because of debris on the track or a tire rub. The car turned to the left and was hit by Ryan Newman. The impact shot the car into the air.
Neither McMurray nor three other drivers involved in the wreck were hurt.
“It’s a safety issue,” said NASCAR spokesman Tom Bryant. “When race cars leave the racing surface, we will react.”
The reduction in fuel flow to the engine is expected to cut horsepower by 12 to 14.
Fourteen drivers reached speeds of more than 202 mph in the Friday afternoon practice.
Before the rules change was announced, five-time Talladega winner Brad Keselowski described the cars as “out of control.”
“The cars are about five to 10 miles per hour faster than they have been here in the last two to three decades,” he said. “The liftoff speed is probably a concern, not just for me but for everybody.
“With the cars handling the way they are, you will need to single-file out to survive this race. I think that is probably not the expectation of what we want to put on for a show. … As to whether whatever changes are made will be successful, I don’t know that, either.”
Qualifying for Sunday’s race is scheduled at 1:05 p.m. ET Saturday.
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April 28, 2018 at 04:12PM