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Twin 125's: What A Difference A Year Makes!

By David Treffer
Contributing Editor Motorsports, The Auto Channel
What a difference a year makes! The NASCAR Winston Cup Twin 125's are usually some of the most interesting races of the entire year. With a format designed to create excitement the formula hit a brick wall last year with the implementation of a new aerodynamic car body package along with new spec shock absorbers. Both races were, to say the least, boring. The carry-over effect into the 2000 Daytona 500 turned last year's "Super Bowl of Motorsports" race into "The Snoozer 500." The NASCAR competition committee realized that they had a restrictor-plate turkey on their hands and began exploring ways to create excitement on restrictor plate tracks. By the fall race the problems were sorted. The fall Talladega race was without a doubt one of the most exciting races in NASCAR history.

If today's Twin 125's are a sneak preview for Sunday's Daytona 500 the formula for one of the best races may have been found. There was passing everywhere on the track and there were numerous times in both races when the field went three-wide in the tri-oval area. In past year's this would have been a recipe for disaster heading into turn one.

So what did the competition committee do? One of the first items that the competition committee addressed was the aerodynamic package. One of the biggest complaints that the drivers have commented on restrictor-plate racing was the inability to pull out of a train of cars and fight toward the front. The other was the vacuum effect that each car created during side by side racing.

The simple design of a leading edge on the front roofline was the first step toward improving the show. The leading edge helps to keep the car glued to the ground. But it also creates a cleaner vacuum or vortex behind the car. On a racetrack clean air is a driver's best friend. The drivers no longer have to wait until the last lap to make their move for the lead. The next step involved the restrictor plate itself. The committee expanded the amount of fuel flow into the carburetor. In essence what NASCAR has done is slow the cars down but allow the drivers more horsepower. No solution is perfect but this is as close as it comes. The third was a slimmer but slightly taller car body style. The ability to cut through the air is still available. But now the drivers have more throttle input than in previous years.

The only other solution would be to allow unrestricted horsepower. The chances of that happening are slim and none and slim, as they country saying goes "just left the building." NASCAR will not allow cars to come close to the 200-mph barrier. Considering the near-disaster years ago at Talladega when a car almost vaulted into the grandstands one can understand NASCAR's pursuit of keeping speeds under control.

So what is in store for the 2001 Daytona 500? Well we will just have to wait until Sunday but it sure looks like it will be a race worth watching.

Editors Note: To view hundreds of hot racing photos and art, visit The Racing Photo Museum and the Visions of Speed Art Gallery.