In what could be the biggest of several potential changes, NASCAR officials are reportedly contemplating a reduction in Sprint Cup racing engine horsepower in 2015.
According to a report by FoxSports.com, NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development Robin Pemberton said the sanctioning body is looking at ways to prolong the overall life and durability of Sprint Cup motors.
While that would be seen as a performance issue change, it could also be considered an economic change, with teams not having to spend as much as they do yearly on developing and building motors.
“It’s as much getting more use out of engines as it is (reducing) horsepower,” Pemberton said. “They kind of feed off of each other. There’s no guarantee horsepower may or may not do anything for the quality of racing, but it will allow us to do other things.”
According to the Fox report, NASCAR officials have had a series of four meetings each with Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford representatives to develop guidelines on how to reduce horsepower.
Whether that means smaller engines, more fuel efficiency (which is also likely one of the key goals of the potential changes), or perhaps even some type of restrictor plate usage remains to be seen.
The goal, according to sources FoxSports.com spoke with, is to reduce power by as much as 100 horsepower, or roughly as much as 15 percent
That would drop the power level that current Sprint Cup motors pump out from 850 to 900 hp to somewhere in the range of 750 to 800 hp, which is what motors were producing back around 2007 and 2008.
“It’s not fully appreciated the fact that we’ve had the same engine for basically 25 or 30 years and it’s at 850 or 860 horsepower, where it used to be 500,” Pemberton said. “And we are at the same race tracks where we used to run 160 (miles per hour) we’re now qualifying at 190 and running 213 going into the corners. There’s been a lot of engineering and gains made across the board.”
Scaling back power is not necessarily seen as a safety issue, but more as a means to further control costs that continue to spiral upward each season.
“It’s some about economics, and there are some who think that if you knocked a little bit of horsepower out, it could put you in a position to make the racing better,” Pemberton said. “But there’s a lot of things that go into it. There’s the mechanical grip and the tire grip and the aerodynamic grip and engine horsepower.
“Every one thing you change, you have to adjust everything around it to make it right. There’s some sort of balance in there. So, if you do a horsepower change, there’s a better than not chance that you will have to adjust aerodynamics, and that may give you the ability to adjust tires. So it’s a three-legged stool. You just have to work on them all.”
Initial response from the series’ three manufacturers has been positive, according to the Fox report.
“If it truly does potentially help the racing and then help durability on the back end, I think it’s not a bad thing to do,” said Pat Suhy, NASCAR Group Manager for Chevrolet Racing. “It’s probably going to be a fairly extensive change, a bigger change than first imagined. … I’m in favor of change when it can make things better, so I’m hopeful that it can actually make things better.”
Added David Wilson, president/GM of Toyota Racing Development, “From our perspective, the healthy thing about this is that NASCAR is working not only with the manufacturers, but all of the engine builders. And we have had a dialog with NASCAR for some time. Just the process itself is absolutely correct. It’s refreshing. We feel as stakeholders in the sport, we have a voice.”
Ford Racing director Jamie Allison agreed.
“We are actively involved with NASCAR on strategic competition and business considerations and support NASCAR’s efforts to work with the manufacturers to continually evolve the sport,” Allison told Fox.
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