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Kyle Larson Asks for More Horsepower, Chris Rice Says Be Careful What You Wish For

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

The Conversation surrounding the Next-Gen short track package usually includes one compound word that everyone recognizes, horsepower. Fans ears may be perked by Kyle Larson saying teams could increase horsepower to around 1000, but the flames of optimism may be extinguished by what Chris Rice had to say. Today, we analyze comments from both drivers.

  • The Next-Gen car currently puts out 670 horsepower on short tracks. This is down from 750 horsepower during the majority of the Gen-6 era and as much as over 900 horsepower in 2014.
  • NASCAR has tried just about everything to improve the short-track package aside from increasing horsepower. This primarily includes aero changes along with adjustments to the tires.
  • Fans have been asking for NASCAR to increase horsepower for a while now. This is in response to many drivers saying that more horsepower will help the Next-Gen short track product.

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What Kyle Larson Had to Say

Kyle Larson joined the Dale Jr. Download this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. asked Larson his thoughts on adding horsepower. Here is what Larson had to say.

Engine builders and teams are saying it’s not going to cost any different to do it. I’ve heard Scotty Maxim [Hendrick Motorsports’ Director ofPowertrain] say the same thing. He’s like, ‘Dude, we could we could bring 1000 horsepower next week, and it would not cost anymore.’ They’re literally taking the engine that I won with at Vegas and making it a 1000 horsepower engine to put in one of Rick’s [Hendrick] personal cars. They’re building it right now, so, they can do it.

Kyle Larson

This is a major development because, up to this point, when people have been discussing horsepower increases, they’ve been talking about a small bump. Denny Hamlin and others have referred to removing the tapered spacer from the engine to bump horsepower up from 670 to 750, but, Larson is suggesting a bump to 1000. Tyler Reddick suggested over What Chris Rice Had to Say

Chris Rice, President of Kaulig Racing, joined Sirius XM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday for his weekly call-in. He gave his thoughts on the costs of changing the horsepower level.

NASCAR has to control [costs] some way. If we don’t turn a lot of RPMs, that means we can run engines more times than just once. If we can run engines more times than once, it can bring the costs of the engnes down. They don’t have to replace parts. They don’t have to tune it as much. They don’t have to go to the dyno as much. It’s just so many little different things engine builders don’t have to do.

Chris Rice on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio

This directly contradicts what Larson, Maxim, and Hamlin have been suggesting, so, who’s right? It makes logical sense that more horsepower leads to more wear and tear on an engine, which means replacing more parts and pieces which means higher costs. Is the line where the horsepower factor becomes detrimental to that at 670, or is it higher than that? We don’t know, but, Chris Rice also had some strong words for how increased horsepower would impact the racing product.

If we give them more horsepower, the field is going to be spread out because the handling is going to be so much worse. The field of handling is going to be spread becuase you’re going to run through the corner, the car may not handle as well, or [other cars] may handle better.

Chris Rice

Is a more spread-out field a bad thing or a good thing? On one hand, the field being more spread out means the racing is not as close, but, it also creates variable lap times between drivers, which creates passing opportunities. Some may argue that NASCAR Cup Series cars are too close together, which makes it harder to pass.

It’s also important to note what race team Rice is coming from. While Kaulig Racing is not a small operation by any means, they are not on the level of big teams like Hendrick Motorsports, so, Kaulig needs certain things to remain competitive. Things like keeping costs reasonable and narrowing the field help a team like Kaulig achieve better results. Once the costs rise, the teams with bigger budgets will inevitably gain a big advantage.

Rice’s perspective on the sport from a mid-tier Cup Series team level, and Larson’s perspective from a top-tier team vary drastically. What matters to a team like Rice and Kaulig may not be as big of a deal to a team like Hendrick. That’s what makes someone like Rice so passionate about his perspective on something like this.

Larson wants to add horsepower, but, Rice is uncertain if it would help the sport. Which side is right?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts