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NASCAR reportedly considering Sprint Cup engine horsepower reduction in 2015

Mar 23, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT

NASCAR is reportedly considering reducing the horsepower output by up to 100 hp in Sprint Cup motors such as the above next season. (Photo courtesy: Richard Childress Racing) NASCAR is reportedly considering reducing the horsepower output by up to 100 hp in Sprint Cup motors such as the above next season. (Photo courtesy: Richard Childress Racing)

In what could be the biggest of several potential changes, NASCAR officials are reportedly contemplating a reduction in Sprint Cup racing engine horsepower in 2015.

According to a report by FoxSports.com, NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development Robin Pemberton said the sanctioning body is looking at ways to prolong the overall life and durability of Sprint Cup motors.

While that would be seen as a performance issue change, it could also be considered an economic change, with teams not having to spend as much as they do yearly on developing and building motors.

“It’s as much getting more use out of engines as it is (reducing) horsepower,” Pemberton said. “They kind of feed off of each other. There’s no guarantee horsepower may or may not do anything for the quality of racing, but it will allow us to do other things.”

According to the Fox report, NASCAR officials have had a series of four meetings each with Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford representatives to develop guidelines on how to reduce horsepower.

Whether that means smaller engines, more fuel efficiency (which is also likely one of the key goals of the potential changes), or perhaps even some type of restrictor plate usage remains to be seen.

The goal, according to sources FoxSports.com spoke with, is to reduce power by as much as 100 horsepower, or roughly as much as 15 percent

That would drop the power level that current Sprint Cup motors pump out from 850 to 900 hp to somewhere in the range of 750 to 800 hp, which is what motors were producing back around 2007 and 2008.

“It’s not fully appreciated the fact that we’ve had the same engine for basically 25 or 30 years and it’s at 850 or 860 horsepower, where it used to be 500,” Pemberton said. “And we are at the same race tracks where we used to run 160 (miles per hour) we’re now qualifying at 190 and running 213 going into the corners. There’s been a lot of engineering and gains made across the board.”

Scaling back power is not necessarily seen as a safety issue, but more as a means to further control costs that continue to spiral upward each season.

“It’s some about economics, and there are some who think that if you knocked a little bit of horsepower out, it could put you in a position to make the racing better,” Pemberton said. “But there’s a lot of things that go into it. There’s the mechanical grip and the tire grip and the aerodynamic grip and engine horsepower.

“Every one thing you change, you have to adjust everything around it to make it right. There’s some sort of balance in there. So, if you do a horsepower change, there’s a better than not chance that you will have to adjust aerodynamics, and that may give you the ability to adjust tires. So it’s a three-legged stool. You just have to work on them all.”

Initial response from the series’ three manufacturers has been positive, according to the Fox report.

“If it truly does potentially help the racing and then help durability on the back end, I think it’s not a bad thing to do,” said Pat Suhy, NASCAR Group Manager for Chevrolet Racing. “It’s probably going to be a fairly extensive change, a bigger change than first imagined. … I’m in favor of change when it can make things better, so I’m hopeful that it can actually make things better.”

Added David Wilson, president/GM of Toyota Racing Development, “From our perspective, the healthy thing about this is that NASCAR is working not only with the manufacturers, but all of the engine builders. And we have had a dialog with NASCAR for some time. Just the process itself is absolutely correct. It’s refreshing. We feel as stakeholders in the sport, we have a voice.”

Ford Racing director Jamie Allison agreed.

“We are actively involved with NASCAR on strategic competition and business considerations and support NASCAR’s efforts to work with the manufacturers to continually evolve the sport,” Allison told Fox.

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  1. midtec2005 - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    NASCAR is a big proponent of pack racing, so this makes sense. They are basically going to the IRL formula: high downforce and low horsepower. It will probably make the racing much closer.

  2. barrylibby - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    Maybe they could work on aero first,they way it is now two cars passing w/in a foot or less of each other is a invitation
    for the big one ! That would be the same if running 2liter 4 cylinders!

  3. aug99 - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    REDUCE THE WIDTH OF THE TIRES.
    THAT WILL BRING ON THE BEST COMPETITION WE HAVE SEEN IN YEARS.

    • ditto65 - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      You seem very angry.

  4. vtfarmboy - Mar 23, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    They have already ruined the entire sport so what if NASCAR makes them ruin the engines. I have an idea. Make them use the exact body design with the same engine as is sold on the show room floor. Build the race car around that. Let them figure out how to make them go faster. Get some creativity back into the sport. No nascar wont do that because they are afraid one of the big owners might get beat and wont be able to control the sponsors or the money.

  5. agsb2 - Mar 23, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    I favor a reduction of displacement to 5 liters or less and have no carb restriction

  6. grayhawk43 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    If they are going to change engine design, then at least go to an overhead cam version. Pushrod engine design is over 80 years old.

  7. worknman24hours - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    The easiest way to slow the cars down is to mandate a final drive gear that guarantees the cars can go only so fast not matter what.

    That’s really easy.

    Max engine revs plus mandated top trans gear plus a mandated max rear gear means the cars will never go as fast as they once did no matter if the cars make 600 or 900 or 1200 horsepower.

    NASCAR kind of has a problem here in that a lot of the tracks are made for cars going 200 mph plus.

    Even at those amazing speeds, the cars on tv look slow because all we see is the speed of the cars relative to the cars next to them.

    Slow the cars down much more on these great high speed tracks and looks for the tv viewers to tune out.

    • indycar02 - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:33 PM

      you tell em 24.

  8. photog645 - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Just some other cookie cutter change to cookie cutter cars . . . big deal!

  9. manik56 - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    If Rick Hendrick spends less money on motors he will spend more money on engineers. No one is saving any money.

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