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Richard Petty raises questions about racing, offers what he thinks would help

Geico 400 - Practice

JOLIET, IL - SEPTEMBER 13: NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2013 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images)

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Richard Petty voiced his concerns about the racing this week in a story in The Augusta Chronicle.

At issue is aero push - where the trailing car has a more difficult time trying to get to the lead car and pass. Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson both said recently there’s not an easy fix to the matter.

Petty, though, has his ideas.

“Up until the last seven, eight years they got into the downforce deal,” Petty told The Augusta Chronicle. “I think they looked at Indy cars, sports cars, formula cars. Everybody’s going downforce, downforce. So NASCAR got caught in a trap. When they did that, they took a lot of the racing part away.”

Petty, a former seven-time champion, suggests relying more on shocks and springs as in his era when he won 200 races.

“The deal is, what’s taken part of the racing away is the way NASCAR’s got their rules,” Petty said. “When we used to do our deal, the cars ran on suspension. They didn’t run on downforce. In fact the cars lifted off the racetrack. We had to do everything when you worked on the car.”

Lead changes are down this year compared to the same 12 events as last year. Cup races are averaging 21.6 lead changes this season compared to an average of 27.6 lead changes for those same events a year ago. The average number of lead changes this season, though, is more than the average for the same events in 2013, which was 19.3.

NASCAR stated that green-flag passes were up at 1.5-mile speedways compared to similar events last year. NASCAR recorded 12,669 green-flag passes this year vs. 9,172 last year at Texas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR had looked at various rule changes for 2016 - and even considered employing them in the Sprint All-Star Race - but the financial costs to teams has been cited as a reason not to make drastic changes.

“I know it’s a lot of expense for us to go through it,” Petty told The Augusta Chronicle. “Right now we’re just band-aiding the thing and all the Band-Aids are not helping anything. Every once in a while they make a change that’s going to help, but we’ve not seen a change in the last year, basically, and it’s not getting any better.

“I’m very concerned about us not putting on a good race so the spectators keep coming back.”

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