Daytona 500 will be won by tandem style racing

Unless more changes are implemented by NASCAR, it’s fair to say that tandem style racing will be a part of the season opening Daytona 500. During preseason testing at Daytona, teams were still working in tandem, despite off-season changes to the cars. Restrictor plates, spoilers, cooling systems, and softer rear springs have been altered for the purpose of breaking up the tandem style racing.

Car-to-car communication has also been banned in 2012 to make the strategy involved more difficult. Ultimately though, teams were still able to run in tandem, only under more difficult circumstances. NASCAR’s changes have made the pushing car run hotter in a shorter amount of time than in previous races. This creates the need for cars to change positions more often thus making the tandem less effective. However, even if only for a couple of laps, tandem racing can be done. In fact, even racing in tight packs throughout the race may also cause heating problems, meaning the field may be rather spread out at times.

Pre-race planning will take an even greater role. While teams have always planned things out ahead of time, it will be even more important given the limited radio communication. Teams will need to utilize practice time to work with their selected drafting partners to find out what works well and what doesn’t as far as who the better pusher is, how long they can stay in tandem, and timing for working their way through the pack. This way, the drivers can discuss their strategy prior to the race since they won’t be able to during the race.

Spotters at work in Daytona
(Photo from Getty Images)

Spotters and pit road members will play an even greater role as well. If drivers need to communicate with each other, they will have to have their messages relayed. This means team members will spend a lot of time running up and down pit road and have their spotters most likely positioned next to their partners’ spotter. Teams were already doing this, but it’s of even greater importance now, especially in the event that one of the cars in the tandem falls out of the race. Spotters will need to scramble and help find their driver a new drafting partner. Ultimately, this would throw all pre-race planning out of the window, but at least still give teams a chance late in the race. Another form of communication likely to be used will be hand signals, which will be one of the quickest ways to send a message to the driver of the pushing car.

Given all of these changes, it’s likely that the 2012 Daytona 500 will have pack racing for most of the event, which is the hope of NASCAR and many fans. However, there’s no question that tandem racing is still the fastest way around the track, meaning it will be what needs to be done to win the race. In the late stages of the event, cars will most likely be in tandem, pushing steam, and running on edge. At that point, it’s all about winning the Daytona 500, and tandem racing is still the best way to get it done. Will there be more changes? Most likely, however it’s going to be difficult to completely eliminate the tandem racing.

2 thoughts on “Daytona 500 will be won by tandem style racing

  1. Andrew nice job! Seems as though fans will see both tandem and pack racing at the 2012 Daytona 500. Although I prefer the tandem style racing personally, I think it will be interesting to see how this plays out in February on the track!

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