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New Shared Data Rules Bring Unnecessary Complaints

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The NASCAR media tour is always intriguing, as topics emerge that cause quite a stir. This year was no exception, ranging from the marketing of youth to the new NASCAR Hawkeye inspection system.

However, there were also a couple of surprises for the drivers along the way, too.

While speaking with the media, it was made mention that NASCAR would be sharing specific data from every single driver to every team in the garage equally.

“Everybody is going to have everybody’s data,” Ryan Newman said. “So it’s just a matter of doing the homework now and comparing answers, as to what you can do to be better or what you can do to be faster, what you can do to maybe knock off a couple of thousandths here or there. But as a driver, if you couldn’t do that beforehand, then it doesn’t teach you anything.  I mean, it’s just a different tool that everybody is going to have that’s going to commonize what we typically would see internally within our cars, ECU data wise, as well as combined with what we can see straightaway wise, line-wise that guys are doing to be faster or potentially slower if you’re that guy.”

When that was brought up to some of their fellow competitors, though, everybody seemed in the dark. The thought also brought an immediate backlash from several drivers, too, with Kyle Busch admitting that he’d rather nobody, not even his teammates, be able to see his data.

“I’d much rather just not have anybody be able to see anything,” he said. “Even if I’m behind, I feel like I’m better at being able to catch up than just being able to hand my data to somebody else and say, here, here it is, this is how you do it. That’s not good. That’s the first I’ve heard of that.”

While the big teams expressed anger, the smaller organizations saw it as a positive.

“There are ways that it would help,” Matt DiBenedetto admitted. “It wouldn’t do much to make up for the obviously large lack of budget and aerodynamics and things like that. But any resource that you can have at this level, no matter what it is or how small, you have to be so perfect at everything at the Cup level, that anything that we can get our hands on is gonna benefit us for sure.  We would be on it, for sure, if we could get any access to data.”

Although it caused a lot of commotion on media day, the real fact is this – it’s a lot to do about nothing.

The data that NASCAR is sharing is simply what FOX Sports and NBC Sports show as part of their broadcast – brake and throttle trace.

Knowing these teams and how they monitor everything that their competitors are doing, there was probably someone already designated to look through the coverage and copy out any of these clips shown.

The only thing this is doing is making access equal across the board. Rather than just having which drivers the broadcast chooses to feature, everybody will be accessed equally.

The data may seem important, but at the end of the day, it’s not the biggest thing. You can figure out throttle pick-up points and brakes already without looking at data. All you have to do is stand in the corner and make sure you have a keen ear, and you can figure it out – that’s how the spying begins at short track level.

Furthermore, you can’t just take someone’s pattern and copy it with your driving. Everybody’s style is different in how hard each driver wants to tackle a corner, and if they wish to be sliding through the middle. You also have to consider the handling package, as you have to be exactly right if you’re going to copy what the quickest car is doing; there’s a reason why they are the fastest, after all.

Today’s NASCAR is driven by engineers and technology, and the slightest hint of more entering the game causes panic amongst fans. But before you do, take a deep breath, realize what’s happening, and understand you don’t need to go crazy about it – this time.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.