NASCAR is optimistic that changes made during this week's Daytona test will at least reduce the level of tandem racing seen in restrictor plate events during the 2012 Sprint Cup season.
Series officials are hopeful of eliminating the practice seen in recent Daytona and Talladega rounds, where cars split off into two-car tandem drafting pairs, and has made a series of technical tweaks – including adjustments to restrictor plate size and radiators during the test itself – in an effort to bring back multi-car groups. NASCAR has also banned car-to-car radio communication, which drivers had been using to collaborate with drafting partners.
The three-day Daytona test saw a variety of single-car, tandem and pack-drafting runs, and although many drivers suggested that tandem racing would still be the fastest option, NASCAR's vice president for competition Robin Pemberton believes good progress has been made.
"So far, we like what we've seen," Pemberton said. "It's been a good mix of what they can do in a larger pack and how close they can get for a limited time to push [in tandem]."
Series director John Darby said there would be further analysis of testing data before decisions were made for a definitive technical package for next month's Daytona 500.
"Once we leave here, obviously there will be a lot of energy spent on looking through all of the data that we've collected this week, looking through lap times and speeds and watching film and footage like everybody else does," he said. "I would like to have the final rules package out as quickly as we can just to make sure the teams have enough time to react to everything."
Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not think the changes would have a huge effect, but agreed there had been steps toward reducing the impact of tandem drafting.
"Maybe, just maybe, you won't have to stay in a two-car tandem to stay with the lead pack," he said. "The two-car tandem is definitely the way to go, as far as speed. You're not going to be able to out-run that. You'll try to save the tail and nose of your car – and save yourself – just trying to draft normally if we find that'll keep up, just to get through the race so you'll be there at the end.
"But that tandem stuff is what's going to win the race."