Following last night’s practice, NASCAR decided on a tapered spacer/restrictor-plate combination designed to disrupt airflow to the carburetor after the speeds were at 200mph. The spacer openings go up to 1 1/16th inches with the openings in the plate, which is positioned beneath the spacer, at 61/64ths inches.
However, during the first practice this morning, Trevor Bayne had a speed of 198.627mph. Subsequently, NASCAR changed the restrictor plate to a smaller size.
“NASCAR is in a hard position where they don't know what to do with the plates with the speeds and the smooth track,” Tony Stewart commented. “NASCAR is doing a good job with it and I don't think we'll know what we got till qualifying on Saturday."
"We didn't get to test at Daytona so now we're finding out that NASCAR is not happy with the tapered spacer and restrictor plate,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “So we've got to practice a lot as we've got to try different things with the gears."
The only incident during practice was when Bobby Santos III wrecked hard, causing practice to be delayed. Santos said the wreck happened as something broke in the steering.
"I'm fine—just a little sore,” Santos said. “Walked away from the wreck; it could've been a lot worse than that.”
Car Owner Jimmy Means said they were done as they had no cars left, though Earnhardt Jr. said that they’re going to donate Aric Almirola’s backup to Means to try to get Santos qualified in the race.
That's pretty neat,” Santos said. “It'd be an honor to have anything to with Dale so that'd be cool to do."
Once the cars got going again after the wall was repaired from the Santos wreck, Justin Allgaier topped the charts at 194mph.
"Yeah, it’s a lot of fun,” Allgaier said. “They changed the restrictor plate a little bit ago and it actually made it a lot easier.
“It's all about going out there and staying center—staying center is the key. It's actually harder to be the follower than the leader. As you're the follower, you got to make sure you stay in their tire tracks and watch the RPMs. If you're the leader, all you got to do is worry about staying connected."
Helping Allgaier get to the top of the chart was Jason Leftler.
"Wow, the motor program is awesome,” Leftler said. “Got to thank all the people at Hendrick Motorsports as they got a lot of power. The cars are awesome. The cup guys are going to partner up, so Justin and I partnered up and worked together. There's been a lot of changes at Turner Motorsports and hopefully they're all for the good. Hopefully we'll be at the front tomorrow with how fast and slick this car is, but if not, we'll hook up with Justin and get up there."
Meanwhile, Stewart felt that NASCAR went too far with the change.
"My personal opinion is that they went too much on the plate here,” Stewart said. “The air now has more power than the cars too. It’s really hard now to pass. I think if they leave it the same, we know what to do. I think they just went too far, but we've got some tricks in our bag."
Meanwhile, Danica Patrick focused on getting to know the draft at all.
"We got going with some people yesterday and I found that you need to make friends— you need to get some people to run with you,” Patrick said. “It seems as they slow you down more and more, they're going to run a lot like the Cup cars—or at least Jr. says that so I'm going to take it as truth."
While all the focus was on the drafting, defending champion Brad Keselowski was working on getting to know his new team.
"It’s good to go into the off-season with momentum and we spent a lot of time trying to move that momentum over to the Cup side,” Keselowski said. “The cause-and-effect is that we've got a bunch of new guys on the Nationwide side so we're just ready to get out there and see how things go."
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