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RESTRICTOR PLATES

On NASCAR'S two longest and fastest tracks, teams must use restrictor plates to reduce horsepower, which slows the cars down. NASCAR officals believe this makes the tracks safer.

HOW IT WORKS

The restrictor plate is metal and has four holes about the size of a quarter drilled into it. It is placed between the carburetor and manifold. The plate chokes the flow of fuel and air mixture into the engine, which reduces its horsepower.

NASCAR'S LONGEST TRACKS

Daytona International Speedway: 2.5-mile tri-oval in Daytona Beach.

Talladega Superspeedway: 2.66-mile tri-oval in Talladega, Ala.

NASCAR started requiring restrictor plates in 1988.

Sources: NASCAR for Dummies

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"There's no way of knowing what was intentional. And how are you going to judge what was too hard when the cars are running 190 miles an hour? To me, it's kind of interesting because if anybody is going to get a penalty, it's probably going to be after they've caused a big wreck. So, I don't know, I guess maybe it would help in that case if the person that created the wreck is penalized after the fact - especially if they miss the wreck that they created. It's gonna be very interesting to see. (NASCAR) could definitely determine who makes the Daytona 500 and then on Sunday who has the chance to win it."

- DALE JARRETT, on NASCAR's announced attempt to reduce "slam-drafting" by adding officials and cameras to corner "no zones."

TODAY'S WEATHER

Cloudy with a few showers. High 73. East winds 10 to 15 mph.

LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Polesitter Jeff Burton and runnerup Jeff Gordon already have spots at the front of the Daytona 500 field. So why compete in the qualifying races today? Plenty of reasons, from sponsor exposure to learning about their cars. NASCAR doesn't require the polesitter or runnerup to compete, but they always do. The 150-mile qualifiers are the closest simulation of what the 500 will be like and drivers and teams learn about how their cars handle in traffic, on long runs, in the pits and other conditions. In all, it's always deemed worth the risk of damaging the car in a wreck or blowing an engine.

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