In another effort by NASCAR to to restrict tandem drafting, the sanctioning body has banned car-to-car radio communications in races, beginning with next month's Daytona 500.
Sprint Cup director John Darby said some drivers had as many as 20 or 30 channels programmed into their radios to communicate with rivals 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."
Darby added that the new rule only affects the drivers, not their crews.
"The teams will still have the ability to talk among themselves," he affirmed. "If Chad Knaus wants to talk to Steve Letarte or Alan Gustafson, they'll have the ability to do that."
He noted that while in effect for all races, the radio rule only significantly affects the restrictor plate races at Daytona and Talladega, where tandem drafting has been an issue.
"The only thing the new rule controls is the actual car-to-car communication, which for the most part doesn't happen," Darby said. "It's not like we're taking away a tool that's commonly in use. It basically affects four races, so by putting the rule in play, it'll just make these four more like the others that we run."
Darby said that NASCAR's efforts to restrict tandem drafting, or at least to return as much as possible to more traditional-style drafting seen on the restrictor plate tracks in the past, were in response to feedback it had received from fans.
"We're here to put on good racing for our fans who come and watch us. The majority of the fans have been pretty vocal about the fact that they prefer the old-school style of drafting," Darby said. "I think the goal is actually to create a nice blend of the two. There's a tool there now that the drivers have learned that they'll never unlearn it, and it's not one that's new; it's been there for a long time. But as conditions have come together, they've now been able to optimize that, OK.
"So, if it's a tool in everybody's pocket that makes the last couple laps of the race more exciting than what we've seen in the past, that's OK. They're going to do that. We can't stop the competitors from trying to win a race, nor do we want to. You know, it's probably just putting a bigger piece of the race back to normal, if you want to call it normal or old-school style drafting, and help the end of the race become as exciting as we can make it."