A fourty-pound (18 kg) weight advantage might work in favor of Danica Patrick at Sunday’s Daytona 500 race.
However, it doesn’t mean the lower weight will give Patrick a significant advantage in the race. While a lighter car is generally viewed as a better car, Daytona is a track where lighter car/driver combination is of unsignificant benefit.
“Talent being equal, I’ll take the less weight every day. It’s always an advantage. Now, how much? How much can you say and measure is difficult. I think at Daytona, you couldn’t measure it, because it would be so small. It would make very, very little difference, especially qualifying,” Andy Petree, former Cup crew chief and car owner and current ESPN analyst was quoted as saying by NASCAR.com.
It’s true that a lighter weight helps acceleration, but during qualifying and racing at restrictor-plate superspeedways, acceleration isn’t the issue. “Qualifying here is about terminal velocity. It’s not about acceleration, because the car really doesn’t accelerate while you’re qualifying. It accelerates up to speed, and really what limits the speed is aerodynamics over horsepower,” Petree added.
By rule, a Sprint Cup car must weigh 3,300 pounds. Where the weight of the driver is concerned, for every 10-pound increment below 180 pounds, 10 pounds of weight must be added to the car. However, the NASCAR rule book assumes that every driver weighs at least 140 pounds. Only two Sprint Cup drivers weigh less than 140 pounds: Danica Patrick and Mark Martin.