Bump drafting controversy: Ban the bump draft! That's the cry echoing around the garage area. Bump drafting -- thumping the rear bumper of the car ahead to help speed up a pass -- has become a common sight during races on Daytona's 2 1/2-mile oval. On Thursday, during the second 150-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500, Kevin Harvick used the tactic at the wrong moment, hitting the rear of race leader Jimmie Johnson as they drove through the second turn. The contact sent Johnson spinning and sparked a seven-car pileup that did major damage to the cars of Harvick, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Joe Nemechek and Dave Blaney. Martin's team was attempting to repair his car, but the other four were all forced to switch to backup cars and will have to start from the rear of the 43-car field in Sunday's 500. Martin, who also raced in the non-points Budweiser Shootout Feb. 12, said the level of on-track aggression has definitely gone up this month. "Both of the qualifying races were rougher than normal," he said. "The Shootout seemed to be a wreck looking for a place to happen and it was incredible that we didn't have one." Kyle Petty really dislikes the bump drafting tactic. "I think it is absolutely, positively idiotic. Period," Petty said. "At 180 miles per hour, whether you're running in a straight line or in the corner, you shouldn't be running into people. We should be better drivers than to run into each other. Let's go back 10, 15, 20 years. Who heard of bump drafting? People raced each other clean."
Impound lot: NASCAR announced recently that it will impound the cars following Cup qualifying at about two-thirds of its tracks this season and keep them from the teams until just before the start of the races. Only minor adjustments, made under NASCAR supervision, will be allowed and the cars will have to start on the same tires and with the same fuel load with which they qualified. Now there are rumors sweeping through the garages at Daytona International Speedway that NASCAR will do the same next year before the Daytona 500, holding the cars from the end of qualifying on Sunday until the start of the 150-mile qualifying races the following Thursday. "That's one of the options we're looking at, but it's too early to tell what we're going to do for next year," NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said.
New boss: General Motors has named Mark Kent its new director of racing. Kent will oversee engineering and marketing for GM's motorsports programs, including NASCAR, IRL, NHRA, SCCA, Grand American and American Le Mans. Kent, 44, replaces Doug Duchardt, who recently resigned to become vice president of development for Hendrick Motorsports. Duchardt held the GM position for two years. Kent has worked for GM in powertrain development for both production and race vehicles.
Associated Press