NASCAR Notes - New gear ratio rule grinding on engineers

Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2004

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Engineers and most race teams aren't too thrilled by NASCAR's new rule that will limit gear ratios next year in all three of the sport's national touring series -- Craftsman Truck, Busch and Nextel Cup.

The sanctioning body announced last week it would limit the gearing at each racetrack with hopes of keeping engines from turning too many revolutions per minute. By keeping rpms under control, NASCAR hopes to keep costs for engine development from growing.

Instead of spending money on pushing engines beyond the breaking point, teams said they will spend it in other areas.

During last week's race at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway, most cars to topped out at 9,500 rpms along the backstretch. As a result, Brendan Gaughan, Rusty Wallace, Kirk Shelmerdine, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Hermie Sadler all broke engines.

Jim Covey, who runs NASCAR's engine-development program for General Motors, said the rule won't reduce costs or enhance competition.

"I don't see it affecting things too much," he said. "It's another thing teams have to look at."

ELLIOTT BACK IN BUSINESS: Evernham Motor-sports found a sponsor to put Bill Elliott back on the track for two more races this year.

McDonald's will promote its drive-thru service on Elliott's Dodge at races in California and Atlanta. It marks the second time the giant hamburger-restaurant chain has been associated with the former series champion.

Elliott announced his retirement from the full-time schedule last December. He has made selected starts since all based on car owner Ray Evernham's ability to find sponsorship.

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