Bristol, TN – (March 15, 2014) – When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to the high-bank half-mile oval in beautiful northeast Tennessee, you think of the stars who usually perform well there. Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin quickly come to mind.
For this weekend’s Food City 500, however, there is an unusual star getting the majority of the media attention. No, it’s not a rookie, or a start and park driver. It is a piece of pit equipment. Specifically, the Cool Down Box!
Thanks to NASCAR’s modification to the qualifying format that no longer permits the slow speed cool down laps that teams were using to cool their cars after a hard qualifying run. The new rule permits the use of the Cool Down Box to cool the engine.
What is a Cool Down Box you ask? It is a portable unit with a reservoir that contains water. The teams also add ice to the water. Additionally, attached to the unit is a radiator and fan. When a car comes in after a run, the crew hooks two hoses from the unit to connectors on the car. The cold water is pumped through the car’s cooling system removing the heat from the engine components. Once the engine is cool, it is ready to head back to the track for another run.
The Cool Down Box was definitely the hot topic on Friday at the track. Media members, crew chiefs, and drivers were all talking about how the new rule will affect qualifying. Marcos Ambrose weighed in on the new rule, “This is way better. To even think we did it the other way is crazy. This is the way it should be because it allows the fastest cars to go out there and put on the right show and not confuse the fans. I think it’s a good change for us and I think these qualifying sessions are gonna get more and more exciting as the drivers and teams work out how to do it.”
Before qualifying on Friday, Matt Kenseth talked about having no cool down laps, saying, “With no cool down laps, less chaotic and confusing hopefully. I think it’s going to look more practice somewhat and more like a normal qualifying session except there will be more cars out there.”
2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Brad Keselowski, who, including this weekend at Bristol, has started on the front row three times in a row, was asked if the new rule made his run Friday possible. Brad replied, “Oh, absolutely. I think that rule change has just made qualifying even better.”
When it was all said and done Friday afternoon, everyone seemed to be very complimentary of NASCAR’s changes. Increased safety, less confusion, and much less chaos led to a very exciting qualifying session at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Though many criticize NASCAR, it seems they have once again made the right call and, as a result, made the “Cool Down Box” the newest star of the Sprint Cup Series.