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Does Danica Patrick’s lighter weight give her an advantage at Daytona?

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#1 slusher

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:28 AM

Does Danica Patrick’s lighter weight give her an advantage at Daytona?
Published Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 11:19 am EST
 
 
 
 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Danica Patrick, likely the lightest Sprint Cup driver, drives a car that might be 30 pounds or so lighter than most of her competition.

The lighter weight could give Patrick an advantage by allowing her team to redistribute weight in other areas of the car.

But it doesn’t sound like competitors or NASCAR officials are fretting about it all that much.

While there was some speculation in social media that having a lightweight driver could be a benefit, NASCAR officials dismissed that theory as a reason why she won the pole for the Daytona 500.

NASCAR bases its cars on a 180-pound driver. If the driver is 180 pounds or more, the car must weigh 3,300.

A driver who weighs 170-179 pounds must add 10 pounds to the car, while a driver 160-169 pounds must add 20, a driver 150-159 pounds must add 30 and any driver under 150 pounds must add 40.

Patrick, whose weight is estimated between 100 and 110 pounds, therefore drives a car at least 30 pounds lighter than most of the other drivers. Mark Martin, the lightest male driver, weighs around 130 pounds.

“You can’t keep chasing something that has minimal effect,” NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said about the 40-pound maximum weight added to Patrick’s car. “We want to keep the cars as light as we can anyways. We’re working in that direction.

“For her having any type of advantage, Daytona and Talladega is probably the least advantage it could ever have. Her being 30 or 40 pounds lighter at some other place, maybe you could argue that. But I think some people are chasing ghosts or goblins.”

MORE: Duel 1 recap, results | Duel 2 recap, results | Danica's day | Lap-by-lap analysis

Patrick crew chief Tony Gibson dismissed the talk.

“To be honest with you, I’d want a fatter driver,” said Gibson, who worked with stocky Ryan Newman, one of the heaviest drivers, the past few years.

“The bigger driver, the weight is behind the center cross member and it helps compress the rear springs more. You’re getting that much weight behind and it’s really an advantage on the restrictor-plate (tracks) to have a bigger driver.”

145995-330-0.jpgYou can really tell how small Danica Patrick is as she stands next to her team owner, Tony Stewart. (NASCAR Media Photo)

It could make more of a difference at a short track like Martinsville or New Hampshire, Pemberton said. Former Cup crew chief Andy Petree, now an ESPN analyst, said it might help most on a road course.

“We have qualified heavy here,” Petree said about his crew chief days. “You always think lighter is better. This kind of thing, I just don’t think it matters.

“Where it could matter is at a road course because the driver sits on the left side and the cars turn to the right. That’s the one place it could be the most advantage—it’s still not going to be great (but) maybe you could measure it there.”

The weight is added to the frame rails.

“The rails are only so long—I can only put so much in certain places,” Gibson said. “I end up filling the rail up and I can’t move (the weight around).”

Former Cup champion Brad Keselowski agreed with Gibson’s theory that heavier is better. In a couple of tweets Sunday, he said: “Lighter cars at super speedways= disadvantage. Everywhere else- advantage. Look for conspiracies some where else pls. … Lower cars run better at super speedways because the spoiler is outta the air. Heights for inspection are measured w/o driver.”

A couple of Cup champions dismissed the issue Wednesday, even if there could be something to the theory.

“The old saying was always, 'Light, low and left,’” said 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth. “You want to build the cars as light as you can—there's always a weight rule so whatever weight you put in there, you want to get as low as you can to get your center of gravity as low as you can.

“If you're lighter, even if you have to add weight, you can add weight where you want it in the car and if you're shorter then you're sitting lower in the car and all that stuff helps of course. It's always been like that.”

Kenseth, though, quipped: “I don't think it's a huge deal. But yes, if she keeps running that fast, then I think she should have to add a bunch of weight and mount it to the roof."

Patrick would have had a bigger advantage last year, when the driver’s weight was based on 200 pounds and no more than 50 pounds could be added.

“They adjust it and they put weight on cars where you have lighter drivers so it all balances out,” said five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

Pemberton said the rule was changed from a 200-pound driver to an 180-pound driver this year because the drivers have become lighter in recent years.

“When you are trying to race anything, there is a balance between the weight you need and whether it’s a balance of the left-side weight or overall weight, and when you go to a place such as Daytona, it probably means less than any place you go,” Pemberton said.

 



#2 brad4321

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:36 AM

I think what is posted there answers the question pretty well.  I don't know one gazillionith of what Kenseth knows.  Considering both her teammates qualified top 5, I wouldn't think too much of it. 



#3 Guest_Johnny_*

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:37 AM

I bet there a a couple other drivers just as light if not lighter than she is.

I'd say as far as other drivers that have questioned this, well let's just say sour grapes and leave it there.



#4 Ace-Garageguy

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:46 AM

Having set up a few race cars myself, I've always worked on the principle stated above :

 

"You want to build the cars as light as you can—there's always a weight rule so whatever weight you put in there, you want to get as low as you can to get your center of gravity as low as you can."

 

A lighter driver MAY allow a very slight advantage in ballast placement, depending on rules and car design.

 

And IF the overall weight of the car ends up being 30 or so pounds under the next lightest all-up car, it's aboult like having a few extra horsepower. That's a very small possible advantage during acceleration mostly, insignificant really.

 

PS. We ran several SCCA cars with a 270 pound, 6'7" driver. Definitely a dis-advantage.


Edited by Ace-Garageguy, 22 February 2013 - 08:33 AM.


#5 wisdonm

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:47 AM

If light weight was an unfair advantage in this case, Mark Martin would have won a dozen Daytona 500s and double the number of races that he has won.



#6 Merkur XR4Ti

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:48 AM

Mark Martin, as noted, weighs 130 pounds and I've never once heard anyone claim he had an advantage.

 

Only with Danica does this kind of griping come about. Haters gonna hate.

 

EDIT: Hah, just beaten by the comment above!


Edited by Merkur XR4Ti, 22 February 2013 - 06:48 AM.


#7 johnbuzzed

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:51 AM

If all else were exactly equal about the cars and driver skills, track conditions and other variables, then lighter weight would yield a faster car.  That's my humble, layman's opinion.



#8 Ace-Garageguy

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:54 AM

If all else were exactly equal about the cars and driver skills, track conditions and other variables, then lighter weight would yield a faster car.  That's my humble, layman's opinion.

Absolutely correct. A rather big "if" there.



#9 Guest_Johnny_*

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:59 AM

Having set up a few race cars myself, I've always worked on the principle stated above :

 

"You want to build the cars as light as you can—there's always a weight rule so whatever weight you put in there, you want to get as low as you can to get your center of gravity as low as you can."

 

A lighter driver MAY allow a very slight advantage in ballast placement, depending on rules and car design.

 

And IF the overall weight of the car ends up being 30 or so pounds under the next lightest all-up car, it's aboult like having an extra 1 or 2 horsepower. That's a very small possible advantage during acceleration mostly, insignificant really.

 

PS. We ran several SCCA cars with a 270 pound, 6'7" driver. Definitely a dis-advantage.

:lol: That reminds me of a local racer that weighed right at 300 pounds who just never could understand why he could not compete when he had the same equipment as everyone else. :lol:



#10 Danno

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 09:32 AM

Haters gonna hate.

 

Hate?   That's a strong word.  Why does any differing opinion get the 'hate' label?



#11 Erik Smith

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:07 AM

If light weight was an unfair advantage in this case, Mark Martin would have won a dozen Daytona 500s and double the number of races that he has won.


130 + 40 is 170 for Martin.
110 + 40 is 150 for Patrick.
The advantage is due to the fact Danica is so far below the lowest "adjustment" weight of 150. So Martin's weight gets him closer to other drivers with the additional weight added, whereas Danica's doesn't get her "adjusted" as close. Minimal difference, really.

Maybe her gas mileage is better?

#12 Harry P.

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:39 AM

Her lighter weight is offset by all the baggage everyone is dumping on her.



#13 Guest_Johnny_*

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:49 AM

 

Hate?   That's a strong word.  Why does any differing opinion get the 'hate' label?

It's all a matter of perception one has of the pack mentality when so many people go after any one person on every story about them.

I was taught "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck".............................................

The same thing is seen when ever there is a story on Jr.

Or on Kyle or Kurt Bush for that matter although they tend to bring that on their selves through their own actions or words most of the time. :lol: (they have calmed down some I'm glad to see)



#14 sjordan2

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:56 AM

Her lighter weight is offset by all the baggage everyone is dumping on her.

 

 

Point.gifGrin.gif123333.gif

Edited by sjordan2, 22 February 2013 - 11:08 AM.


#15 Agent G

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 11:09 AM

Will less weight mean she can turn right for once?

 

G



#16 martinfan5

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 11:26 AM

I dont understand why you guys are even making a big deal about this,  she does not weigh a lot, so more weight is added to car,  how is that a big deal.

 

I dont think its going to be an advantage for her,  every car has to weight the same, period,  and I believe the new weight for 2013 is 3500 pounds, and that includes the driver.



#17 Agent G

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:10 PM

3500 lbs?

 

Heck that's just me, never mind the 5350 for the Town Car I drive.

 

But Jonathan will she ever turn right?

 

:lol:



#18 Guest_Johnny_*

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:14 PM

I dont understand why you guys are even making a big deal about this,  she does not weigh a lot, so more weight is added to car,  how is that a big deal.

 

I dont think its going to be an advantage for her,  every car has to weight the same, period,  and I believe the new weight for 2013 is 3500 pounds, and that includes the driver.

That is what a lot of the drivers were saying when asked about a possible advantage.

But there were some drivers who seem to be clueless as they were the ones that brought it up! :lol:



#19 Pro Wrench

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:20 PM

Stuff like this is exactly why I LOATH NASCAR. Bunch of whining crybaby poor sportsman. They go out there in what amounts to little more than a high speed demolition derby running litteraly INCHES from each other at upwards of 200 mph or better then get all butthurt when someone bumps them, intentional or not, then when someone gets more press or does better than them on a regular basis they have to start stuff like this. I have been involved in drag racing and have been an NHRA member for over 25 years and you rarely EVER encounter this sort of thing in that motorsport.

 

Besides that, the races last so long they get boring.



#20 martinfan5

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:31 PM

3500 lbs?

 

Heck that's just me, never mind the 5350 for the Town Car I drive.

 

But Jonathan will she ever turn right?

 

:lol:

I typed the wrong weight, the weight for the 2013 cars is 3,050.

 

She has turned right, when she was in the Indy car series :lol:

 

Wayne, if you really want a date for when Danica will turn right in a Cup car,  it will be June 23 ;)


Edited by martinfan5, 22 February 2013 - 12:37 PM.