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March 12, 2014 3:07 PM

Crew Chief Matt Puccia on NASCAR Qualifying Modifications

What are your thoughts on these modifications?  “We kind of figured something was coming and thought this would be the direction it would go because getting the engines cooled down has been a big concern.  Everybody is going to want to get as much tape on the front of the grille as you can for qualifying, so they’re going to be as aggressive as they can be with the tape and getting the engines cooled down the best they can has been a big challenge.  To kind of put everything on an equal playing field so teams aren’t going out and having to do all this crazy stuff radiator and cooling-wise to get the engines cooled down, they just gave us the cool down machines back.  This makes it an even playing field.  The biggest thing it allows is it puts a limiting factor on how many runs you can do in a session and also the tires.  Some places we’ve been to, like Phoenix and Vegas, you can go out and make multiple runs on the tires, but we’re coming up on some tracks here like Texas and Darlington and California where you’re only going to be able to do one run because the tires fall off so much.  But it allows you that opportunity to go out and do another run if you see fit.”

 

Is this cool down box hook up a simple thing for you guys to do?  “We have all the capabilities of plugging in.  You’re not going to be allowed to open the hood still, which is fine because there’s not a lot you could do underneath the hood without tools, but they are going to make you run hoses and have a quick disconnect over in one of the cowl flap doors, so you have to open the cowls up and hook your cool down up, and run a remote hose over to that cowl door to be able to hook up to it.”

 

Obviosuly people were looking at Bristol and all of the cars that potentially could have been on the track at one time, so is it kind of a relief to have the modification in place for this weekend  “For sure.  It’s something I really wanted to see happen because I don’t think you’re going to have the problem of cars running up in front of you when you’re trying to do your fast lap.  The chances of somebody running up in front of you when they’re out there doing their mock run is a lot less than somebody running up in front of you just trying to cool their engine down.  That’s been a concern.  You’re out there trying to run your qualifying lap and there are guys out there trying to cool their car down on the bottom of the race track.  It’s less likely for that to happen now.  You can go out there and do your business and it’s less likely you have to worry about somebody cutting you off.  There’s still a chance it could happen, but it’s just far less now.  It’s a safety deal, too.  At Vegas it was kind of apparent that guys were out running 30 miles an hour on the bottom of the race track and other people were out there running up to speed and running 180 miles an hour faster.  It became a safety issue and NASCAR did a good job reacting to it.  I think the new qualifying format offers a lot of excitement and this is just a little bit of tweaking they’re doing.  I’m sure there will still be more tweaking as it goes and we learn more about what we’ve got to do.”

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