By STEVE REED
The Associated Press
BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kyle Busch is growing tired of stock car racing’s governing body trying to manufacture tighter competition in the annual All-Star race at the expense of the Cup Series’ heavy hitters.
“That’s not what I signed up to be a NASCAR driver for is to scrunch the field up and take the advantage away from those guys that are fast,” said Busch, last year’s All-Star race winner.
In its seemingly never-ending quest to make the All-Star race more competitive and create more passing opportunities, NASCAR announced this week it will test a different aerodynamic package at the May 19 event at Charlotte Motor Speedway by requiring cars to have restrictor plates.
Several recent All-Star races have featured one driver getting out in front of the field while running in clean air — and not being able to be caught.
The plates are used to choke horsepower and slow speeds, thus bunching up the crowd in an effort to make the race a little more exciting for fans.
That drew a groan from the often animated and outspoken Busch, who has 44 career Cup victories.
“I’m not sure that you can fabricate racing to being anything better than what exists, you know?” said the 32-year-old Busch. “People say how great it was back in the day, but you had two guys or three guys on the lead lap sometimes. Richard Petty would win races by two laps at places and now you have 25 cars on the lead lap and competition is as close as it’s ever been. People are complaining about it that there is a lack of competition. I don’t know what you expect to be competition — you want the last-place guy to be able to be the first-place guy. There’s always going to be a last-place guy.”
The aero package was used at an Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year. There were record numbers of leaders, lead changes and green flag passes for the lead.
In an attempt to replicate that for next month’s All-Star race, each car will be fitted with aero ducts, a 6-inch-high spoiler with two 12-inch ears and a restrictor plate, among other modifications. Restrictor plates are used at Daytona and Talladega, the two biggest and fastest tracks on the schedule.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said he’ll wait to offer an opinion until he sees how the restrictor-plate racing plays out at Charlotte.
“I think the racing will probably be a lot closer,” Stenhouse said. “I do think that when you reduce the speeds the handling isn’t as big of an issue and so I think the racing will be probably a little more intense. We’ll just have to see how the fans like it. I think that’s the biggest thing we want to do is to make sure the fans enjoy our races.”
Busch also wants to see close racing.
But he doesn’t want it to come at the expense of those who should be rewarded for the work they put in setting up their cars during the week.
“The fact of the matter is that we’re trying to orchestrate something that doesn’t quite exist,” said Busch, who is looking for his second straight Cup win on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway after capturing the checkered flag last weekend at Texas.
Busch joked that you simply can’t make everyone happy.
“Be miserable like me — and then nothing will surprise you,” Busch said, drawing a laugh from the room full of reporters. “I think if you wanted pink ice cream with white frosting on it, you would say, ‘Man, I really wish I had white ice cream with pink frosting.’ It’s just everybody wants the opposite of what they see and what they get.”