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August 30, 2014

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Crash totals are down, but questions about restrictor-plate races remain

The number of crashes in Sprint Cup racing is dropping. For the second year in a row the number of wrecks and spins has gone down.

So what’s causing fewer crashes? Have the drivers become more comfortable with the car? Did the single-file racing we see at the cookie-cutter tracks make accidents less likely? Or are drivers being more careful to avoid ruining their chances of getting into the Chase? “It’s all about points,” said Richard Childress in a story about the crash results published in USA Today.

Some speculated in June, when the double-file restarts were implemented, that the number of altercations could increase. But that isn’t the case. The new rule has only been in effect for half of a season, so let’s see what the results are at the end of next year. “The double-file restarts I would have thought would have increased that,” Jeff Gordon told USA Today. “And they still might (with) a whole season next year.”

Although the number of crashes is down, the question of what to do about the restrictor-plate races remains. Airborne race cars at both Talladega races last year left many wondering if it was time to install a flight control tower in the infield. NASCAR has spent years working on ways to keep the cars on the ground, including a no bump-drafting rule in the turns. But the problem still persists. NASCAR continues to consider a remedy and is looking at possible changes to the car for the 2010 season. Nevertheless, I’ll be holding my breath when the Daytona 500 rolls around.

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