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October 21, 2014

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The two-car draft or a giant pack? What’s the best form of restrictor-plate racing?

Every time there was a race at Talladega or Daytona, we would hear the same argument in the media and among the fans. Should there be restrictor plates on the cars or not?

Well, now there’s a new argument brewing regarding the racing at superspeedways. Is a pack of 30 cars, racing inches from one another, more interesting to watch than several two-car groups that are more spread out?

In terms of excitement, Sunday’s Talladega race was hard to argue against. First of all, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon were three-wide at the finish line, resulting in Johnson beating Bowyer by 0.002 of a second. That’s the closest finish in NASCAR history. Add to that the fact that each of those drivers had cars pushing them, and you had a large contingent of cars all converging on the finish line at the same time.

Secondly, the race had 88 lead changes. That tied a NASCAR record. And 26 different drivers led the race.

So why wasn’t I getting the adrenaline rush from this race that I usually do? Sure, I was on the edge of my seat at the finish, but I’m usually on the edge of my seat for an entire Talladega race.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved the racing action last Sunday, but for me, it didn’t have the constant intensity of a pack of cars, side-by-side, jockeying for position for 500 miles. The two-car draft we see now allows for the cars to get strung out. And the drafting strategy now is dependent on how two drivers race together as opposed to how drivers choose any number of drafting partners from a pack.

There was more unpredictability to the racing when the cars raced in large groups, and frankly, it looked more dangerous. But I have a feeling that the new form of restrictor-plate racing is here to stay, for the time being.

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