By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
Published October 9, 2005
Two cars arc through a corner at 160 mph. The second nestles close behind the first. The lead car wiggles, and its driver loses control and spins into the wall. While the cars never made contact, the envelopes of air they are pushing and pulling did. And that's why the lead guy's sheet metal met the SAFER barrier. Jimmie Johnson, fourth in points entering today's race at Kansas Speedway, discusses "taking the air off" someone's spoiler.
"It's one of the tricks we have out on the track. Right before you make contact with someone when you get extremely close to them, you can change the way the air flows over the spoiler. And also your nose is pushing air into the back of their car. It really just makes the back of that car light and it redirects the air off the spoiler and makes the car loose. In some extreme cases, it can spin someone out. In other cases, it just gets the guy loose and moves him up and out of the way. And then you've got the inside lane and can go on. And that's what Kyle (Busch) was trying to do (to Johnson late at Dover Sept.25, where Johnson held on to win). He was trying to loosen me up so he could get inside of me and win the race. Believe me, I knew he was close."