Getting rid of restrictor plates?

Monday, June 24, 1991 – NASCAR officials, along with five Cup Series teams, began a two-day test at Talladega Superspeedway in an attempt to develop an aerodynamic package that could allow the sanctioning body to potentially eliminate the use of carburetor restrictor plates at its two superspeedways. Use of the horsepower-reducing plates kept speeds under 200 mph but many drivers complained that the plates also keep the field bunched too closely together, often leading to dangerous, multi-car crashes.

A 20-car pileup, which left driver Kyle Petty sidelined with a broken left leg, occurred in the May 6 Winston 500 at Talladega a month earlier. The bulk of the blame for the crash was placed on driver Ernie Irvan, who tried to squeeze in between Petty and Mark Martin, igniting the crash, and the 7/8-inch restrictor place, which kept cars running closely together.

Drivers taking part in the test at the 2.66-mile track were Dale Earnhardt (Chevrolet), Bill Elliott (Ford), Brett Bodine (Buick), Harry Gant (Oldsmobile) and Bobby Hillin (Pontiac). Gant had won the May race at Talladega; Hillin was filling in at the test for the injured Petty.

Officials tested with changes to the rear spoilers as well as smaller pieces along the top of the car, down the C-post (alongside the rear window) and across the rear deck lid, all on the driver’s side. A “reverse” spoiler underneath the rear of the cars was also expected to be tested.

Cup Series director Dick Beatty said if officials found anything they felt could make the racing at the two tracks safer and more competitive it likely would be implemented in time for the summer race at Daytona.

Rain on the following day cut the test short and officials called the results “inconclusive.”

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