As reported by Terry Blount of ESPN, NASCAR has set up a unique stipulation for the upcoming race at Talladega on October 23rd; $100,000 will go to the driver with the most lead changes, provided the entire field eclipses the 100 lead change mark. This mark seems impossible, but it is not. This past spring NASCAR had 88 lead changes at Talladega. With a few less cautions and drivers who are hungry for extra cash to use at their disposal to help themselves or their race teams, this will be an exciting event. This is exactly was NASCAR was hoping to accomplish when it set up the stipulation coupled with a slightly larger restrictor plate(1/64 inch larger) that will give the cars anywhere from 7-10 more horsepower. If you are unaware of how a restrictor plate works, it is a plate that has a regulated set of holes drilled to allow a certain amount of air from the intake system into the engine. This drops the horsepower of the engines and thus makes racing safer as it lowers the acceleration and top speed the cars can reach. At a track like Talladega where drafting is the key to speed, NASCAR is now changing its stance slightly as the cars have become much safer in the past years with the Car Of Tomorrow and the Hans device.
How will extra horsepower plus a cash bonus stipulation affect the race at Talladega on the 23rd of October in the Chase? I believe we will see less cautions. Drivers will be aware that more horsepower is at their disposal and that passing with teammates is crucial to success, and for extra cash. The race will produce higher speeds than we have seen in recent years with extra HP on tap. Less cautions will be crucial to eclipsing the 100 lead change marker that NASCAR has set up. Is this a cheap ploy to get more people to watch the sport however? I don’t think a cash bonus is enough to draw new fans into the sport, however it is enough to get the casual fan to pay more attention to the outcome, or how many cautions or lead changes have happened. All trivial things when most people just look for the top 10 finishers and that is it.