By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - When Nationwide Series practice speeds topped 200 mph Wednesday afternoon, NASCAR reacted quickly to slow the cars.
It didn't work.
NASCAR reduced the size of the openings in the tapered spacers used to reduce horsepower on Nationwide engines from 61/64ths to 60/64ths inches for teams running old generation engines and from .945 inches (the equivalent of 60.48/64ths) to 59/64ths inches for teams running new engines.
With Tony Stewart as a drafting partner, Aric Almirola led the first Nationwide practice session with a lap at 200.303 mph. Stewart, the only other driver to top 200 mph, was second on the speed chart at 200.236 mph.
With the smaller spacer opening, Stewart ran 202.238 mph in the second practice session, followed by defending series champion Brad Keselowski at 202.234 mph. Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also topped 200 mph in the second session.
"We didn't have a test like the Cup teams had, so we're allowing the teams to make changes during today's practices," Nationwide Series director Joe Balash said between sessions. "(The 200.303 mph) was not really the number we're looking for."
After the second practice session, NASCAR decided on a tapered spacer/restrictor-plate combination designed to disrupt airflow to the carburetor. The spacer openings go up to 1 1/16th inches with the openings in the plate, which is positioned beneath the spacer, at 61/64ths inches.
The combination will be used on all engines in the series.