NASCAR eliminates car-to-car communications
In an effort to downplay tandem drafting, ban goes into effect at Daytona 500
By David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM
January 12, 2012 9:06 PM, EST
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The days of NASCAR drivers being able to talk with their drafting partners over the radio during a race are over. In another step toward trying to downplay tandem drafting, the sanctioning body has officially banned the practice beginning with this season's Daytona 500.
Sprint Cup director John Darby said some drivers had as many as 20 or 30 channels programmed into their radios for restrictor-plate races. "There was a point where it got so confusing to them, that they actually lost focus on what they were doing," Darby said, "and felt much better if we could back that off somewhat and get it to a standard or more common communications between driver and spotter and driver and pit crew as we've known it in the past."
There was a point where it got so confusing to them, that they actually lost focus on what they were doing.
-- JOHN DARBY
That means no more drivers talking to one another over the radio, and no more spotters speaking with both drivers in a tandem draft. The rule will affect all races and not just restrictor-plate events, and still allow crew chiefs on the same team to speak with one another. NASCAR's aim was to eliminate car-to-car communication, which last year was widely used in orchestrating the two-car drafts.
"Matt Kenseth said it the best to me in the garage," Darby said. "He said anything that NASCAR can do to help us get back to one against 42 others, he supports, and I think that's part of it, whether it be the confusion from the driver's seat or the being able to cut a deal or whatever it is. The teams will still work with inside the rule, whether it's spotters on the roof, swapping notes back and forth. There will be plenty of communications going on, and the drivers will be almost as aware as they were, I guess. But it just seemed like that would be helpful to unclutter the airwaves a little bit, if you would, and make the communications more point-blank and direct to within the team."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he didn't think the rule change would have a major impact, because most drivers now pair up with teammates or manufacturer allies that they lean on almost exclusively throughout the race.
"I don't think it'll be a big deal," Earnhardt said. "You know, pretty much everybody is working with teammates anyways. I don't think they're going to limit that. I don't think it'll be any big deal. When we first started tandem drafting, you might end up working with somebody outside of your company, but then everybody sort of got a little strict on who they were going to work with and how they were going to do it, and they stuck with that plan the entire races. So I don't think it's that big of a deal."