Daytona Testing Notes: The Magic 200 MPH Mark — Not

There is absolutely nothing magic about the 200-mph mark.

People have been treating the 200-mph number like it was handed down by a sacred oracle.

First off, a series of factors are required to make a car go airborne.  ONE of them is high speed.  Another is the car getting turned around at just the right angle.  It’s not like the minute a car goes faster than 200 mph, it is in imminent danger of becoming airborne.  The higher the speed, the higher the probability the car can leave the ground — IF other factors are also present.

Secondly, today’s car has very different aerodynamics than previous versions of the car.  NASCAR apparently feels confident that the 202-205 mph range does not raise the probability of a car becoming airborne significantly.  John Darby specifically said that NASCAR had wind tunnel testing data that led them to this conclusion.  NASCAR believes that the slight increased risk is small relative to other benefits (the most significant of which appear to be saving engine builders/tuners from having heart palpitations due to the engines turning very high sustained rpms).

If you can’t let go of thinking about 200 mph holding some mystical power, remember that 200 mph is really just 321.9 kilometers per hour.

Doesn’t sound so magical that way, does it?

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