Originally created 04/01/04

How fast is too fast in racing?



FORT WORTH, Tex. - Is Texas Motor Speedway too fast?

With straightaway speeds reaching 200 mph for this Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 the question remains: How fast is too fast?

"This sport is all about going fast," said Eddie Jones, general manager for Ken Schrader's BAM Racing Dodge. "There already are some limits in place - the walls and the drivers' right feet. If you try to go faster than the racetrack will let you, you're going to run into something. Fast is what we're all about."

NASCAR mandates the use of a restrictor plate at its two fastest speedways - Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. The plates restrict the flow of air and gas into the engine to reduce speeds by about 35 mph for safety reasons.

That makes Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas the two-fastest raceways on the circuit.

"Atlanta and Texas are two places where the hairs on the back of your neck are standing on end when you're racing there," Jeff Green said. "We're going about 200 mph in the corners at those tracks and that is really fast. Do I think the speeds need to be lowered there? I am not really sure about that."

While drivers admit to some apprehension about the speeds at Atlanta and Texas, few, if any, are in favor of using restrictor plates.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: NASCAR had to change its position about the caution created by Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the end of last Sunday's race at Bristol, Tenn.

John Darby, competition director of the series, said after the race he wouldn't punish Earnhardt Jr. for his spinout that saved him from going a lap down. At the time he said it was too difficult to determine a driver's intention.

But after hearing Earnhardt Jr. admit he created the caution, NASCAR was forced to re-open the issue, spokesman Mike Zizzo said.

Last year at Talladega, Earnhardt Jr. admitted he drove below the yellow "out of bounds" line to complete a pass of Matt Kenseth and win the Aaron's 499. NASCAR said drivers caught below the yellow line were supposed to serve a stop-and-go penalty on pit road.

This time, Earnhardt Jr.'s honesty might force NASCAR to react.

PIT STOPS: Bobby Labonte will take his turn in the Richard Childress Racing's all-star program this Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. Childress will field a Chevrolet in five selected Busch Series events this year with a different driver at each race. The other drivers scheduled for the special RCR project include Kerry Earnhardt, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Ricky Craven.