NASCAR’s Rumored Preparation to Welcome New Manufacturer Triggers Horsepower Rumors Yet Again

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Feb 19, 2024; Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series drivers Corey LaJoie (7), Kyle Busch (8) and A.J. Allmendinger (16) race three wide for the lead during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
In the early days of NASCAR, high horsepower was like an everyday thing. Drivers honed their driving skills to keep up in high-powered races packed with several lead changes. However, the American racing series contemplated toning down horsepower way back in 2001. Then slowly, over the years, the plan came to fruition when a figure as low as 670 hp was applied to all Cup Series tracks.
Recently, drivers and teams have brewed a fresh storm around the topic again. Veteran racers like Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott have called for a comeback of higher horsepower. A fresh NASCAR move has even spurred fans to push forward their favorite drivers’ demands.
A ray of hope for NASCAR fans
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Currently, three OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) rule the NASCAR scene: Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota. Another manufacturing company from the land of the rising sun seems to be poking its head around the corner. Honda is looking to foray into American race tracks. NASCAR has used the excuse of wooing this car brand besides budget issues to turn a blind eye to horsepower demands.
Yet a recent development has led fans to believe Honda’s entry might grant drivers’ wishes. Bob Pockrass tweeted: “Martin Truex Jr has an axle torque sensor on Richmond car to gather data NASCAR wants for engine development/engine costs. Could it be used to determine/regulate parity if new manufacturer enters the sport with a different engine design? NASCAR says that is not the purpose here.”
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Redditt fans were quick to drag back the horsepower debate into the scene. Some fans created an energetic comment thread: “Soooooo…More hrsprs?” Then, “GIVE IT THE BEANS!” Then again, “Mo Powah”.
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One fan suggested a possible purpose for the axle torque sensor, “Maybe seeing if the new rear axles/trans on the independent suspension can handle a power increase?” Another suggested, “Probably in a effort to curb engine development? Make people actually hit the horsepower number they say they are?”
A fan crossed their fingers and put forward hopes. “Hoping it’s either a power increase or maybe to get data on shifting”. Another echoed the sentiment: “I think NASCAR’s plan at this point is to the reply to the calls for more horsepower with “ok, but it’s coming from a hybrid system”.”
While NASCAR has also verbally shown some signs of raising horsepower, that day does not seem soon. Most drivers have been clamoring for this move, yet others have doubts.
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Veteran Cup driver believes good racing is not linked to this debate
Michael McDowell is a seasoned Cup racer, having Daytona 500 and Indy Grand Prix trophies under his belt. This veteran Cup driver chose to stand out from the high-horsepower demanding crowd. He pointed out that F1 has faster cars, but the racing quality diminishes there. On the other hand, Mazda Miata MX5 hosts the best races with slower cars.
He further emphasized his point. “So, going faster will not make racing better. It’ll make it harder for drivers and more challenging and fun because we’ll be sliding around and laying streaks off the corner. But there’s not going to be more passes for the lead, not more cars on the lead lap, and it’s not going to make the racing better. I don’t think more horsepower would change the racing a whole lot.”
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While McDowell has a salient point, the majority of racers and fans will likely not show support for his side on the horsepower debate.

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