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NASCAR CHANGES SET-UPS AT TALLADEGA

Hoping to improve the quality of racing at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, NASCAR passed a series of rules changes Tuesday for the largest track on the circuit.

Chevrolet, Ford and Pontiac teams all will have to make aerodynamic changes and restrictor plate changes for the Winston 500 on Oct. 15.

The three manufacturers must increase the hole in the carburetor restrictor plates to an inch, allowing more air flow and increasing the horsepower.

The hole in the plates, required at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway to slow speeds on NASCAR's two fastest tracks, was previously seven-eighths of an inch.

The way the plates were gave the cars less horsepower and less throttle response and kept most of the 43-car field bunched together. The new plates should improve throttle response and reduce the need to rely on drafting.

But to equalize the increased horsepower the new plates will allow, NASCAR also passed a rule that requires Ford and Pontiac teams to increase the width of their rear spoilers from 57 inches to 59 inches. Chevrolet can keep the spoilers at 57 inches.

Meanwhile, Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., will use a newly developed "soft wall" for its October race to lessen the trauma on drivers when their cars hit the retaining wall.

The energy-absorbing wall will be installed in the inside retaining walls of Turns 2 and 4 before the Oct. 8 UAW-GM Quality 500.

The soft walls are in response to renewed safety concerns since the on-track deaths of Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin. The two drivers were killed this year when their cars hit the concrete wall at about 150 mph in separate accidents at New Hampshire International Speedway.

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