Earnhardt News
2000 Season

NASCAR changes rules for Chevrolet cars
David Poole

(Mar. 6, 2000)
Chevrolet's Winston Cup teams will be allowed to extend their front air dams two inches forward below the bumper on their 2000 Monte Carlos beginning with Sunday's Cracker Barrel 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

NASCAR announced the rule change late Monday afternoon.

Mike Helton, NASCAR's chief operating officer, said the change is aimed at helping Chevrolet teams achieve better aerodynamic balance on their cars.

"When we had the cars in the wind tunnel we experimented with this and we found it helped the balance," Helton said. "It's not a huge change but it's a change that will help them a little bit, which is what we're thinking they need to balance the car out."

Monday's rule change allows Chevrolet teams to add a two-inch extension beginning at the current position of the front bumper. The alteration was among those tested when NASCAR took cars to the wind tunnel in Marietta, Ga., after each of the season's first two races.

The front air dam extension appears to be an intermediate step between no change and the new longer Monte Carlo nose teams have been lobbying for.

Chevrolet teams have contended through the season's first three races that their new model, as approved by NASCAR, has too much of its downforce on the rear end and not enough on the front. That combination creates lift on the nose of the car, reducing traction on the front tires. In turn, that makes it harder to turn the Monte Carlo in the corners of the race track, a condition referred to as pushing.

"I think we're pretty even with them in the back," Richard Childress, owner of the Chevrolets driven by Dale Earnhardt and Mike Skinner, said Sunday after the CarsDirect.com 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "I think we're pretty even with them on the back."

Earnhardt finished eighth in Sunday's race, the best among Chevrolets. Fords have won twice and Pontiacs once this season, and Earnhardt's second-place finish at Rockingham a week earlier is the new Monte Carlo's only top-five finish so far this year.

Helton said NASCAR believes the season's first three races have shown that the Monte Carlo's aerodynamic push is a real problem that gets worse on long green-flag runs, and that Monday's change is aimed at helping fix that.

"We know what this does to the car and it's not a lot," he said. "It will help with the balance of the car on long runs. …Our effort was to help Chevy get its balance right to able to race the whole race."

Felix Sabates, who owns the Chevrolets driven by Sterling Marlin and Kenny Irwin, applauded NASCAR's decision to make a change before the Atlanta race.

"This is a Band-Aid, not a cure," he said, "but it shows that NASCAR is doing the right thing. I give NASCAR a lot of credit for trying."


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