The Earnhardt Connection - News

Chevys, Pontiacs get concession from NASCAR
The Earnhardt Connection
Daytona Beach, Florida (March 2, 1998)

Although Chevrolets have won two of the three races this year, they are getting a break from NASCAR.

After the new Ford Tauruses dominated the Las Vegas 400, NASCAR announced rule changes Monday that should help Chevrolet and Pontiac drivers.

Tauruses took the first seven spots and 13 of the top 14 in the inaugural Las Vegas 400 on Sunday. Chevy and Pontiac drivers complained loudly that rule changes instituted before the first non-restrictor plate race of the year at Rockingham, N.C., gave the edge to the Fords.

So starting Sunday at the Primestar 500 in Atlanta, rear spoilers on both makes of Ford cars will be lowered one-quarter of an inch. The Taurus, which is phasing out the Thunderbird in the Winston Cup series, will have a 4.75-inch spoiler. Thunderbird spoilers will be lowered to 4.5 inches.

Lowering the spoiler height is supposed to slow cars in the turns and make the racing more competitive. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo will keep its 5-inch rear spoiler, and the Pontiac Grand Prix will stay at 5.375 inches.

Front air-dam clearance will be unchanged for all four approved models.

"It's just a bad deal when you put out everything you do and you're trying and everybody is working their hearts out and the rules are just this unbalanced," said Richard Childress, owner of the Monte Carlo driven to eighth place at Las Vegas by Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt.

NASCAR said it will watch how the changes affect the Atlanta race and that they will remain in effect "until further notice."

The spoiler and air-dam heights apply to all Winston Cup tracks accept Daytona and Talladega, where carburetors are restricted to reduce speeds.

Chevrolet's other victory came with Jeff Gordon at Rockingham. Mark Martin won the Las Vegas race.

"We're doing our best not to do a whole lot of complaining or whining," said Bobby Hamilton, whose Chevy ranks 10th in the overall points race. "But it does get kind of frustrating sometimes. Our thinking is just to be on equal ground with everyone else."