Driving Today

NASCAR Seeks to End Two-step

Results from Talladega show that the sanctioning body did not go far enough in its effort to limit t...

Two-person teams are great in bobsledding, tennis and ballroom dancing, but they are a travesty when it comes to auto racing. In fact, the way Sprint Cup racing has recently evolved on the superspeedways of Talladega and Daytona is downright ludicrous. It’s one thing to try to hook up in a singles bar, but being forced to hook up with a supposed competitor on the racetrack is ridiculous. Fans almost universally hate it because it seems so anticompetitive, plus it looks stupid. One car nuzzling into the rear end of another, lap after lap, is just not the racing we grew up with. Junior Johnson, the guy often credited with discovering drafting, has to roll his eyes when he looks at a race like the one that took place a week ago in Talladega.

In the aftermath of that classic, Tony Stewart -- who always seems grumpy anyway -- complained that Paul Menard didn’t do enough to help him on a restart, potentially costing him the race. Now why Menard should be chastised for not helping a competitor is difficult to fathom, but that is what superspeedway racing has come to be.

Now, NASCAR is furiously trying to find ways to halt this travesty before next season’s opener in Daytona. Officials there believed that the restrictor-plate change that increased top speeds, as well as the change to the pop-off valve setting in the cooling system, would do the trick. The faster speeds supposedly make tandem-running more dangerous, while the cooling system change makes the cars more likely to overheat if they run nose-to-tail. However, neither one seemed to make much of a difference in Talladega. The entire race was filled with two-car team-ups, much to the disgust of most racing fans.

Now, NASCAR’s big problem is what to do next, since the previously mentioned changes failed to put a noticeable dent in the tandem-running trend. Racing officials with the organization will certainly look at other technical solutions to make the nose-to-tail approach less appealing competitively. What they should consider doing is simply banning it altogether. If two cars team up for more than a lap at a time, they should be penalized a lap each. That would certainly put an end to tandem running. And the way we look at it, it can’t end soon enough.



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