NASCAR shrinks restrictor-plate openings after Jamie McMurray’s crash

Roughly 10 minutes into final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice on Friday at Talladega Superspeedway, Jamie McMurray cut the left-rear tire of his No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

The car turned sideways and was launched into the air when Ryan Newman’s No. 31 Chevrolet broad-sided McMurray’s machine, which barrel-rolled down the backstretch and clipped the inside catch fence before it landed upright.

McMurray had just run the fastest lap in Happy Hour, a speed of 203.975 mph that stood up for the rest of the session. After McMurray got airborne, however, NASCAR announced a reduction in the size of the restrictor-plate openings from 7/8ths of inch to 55/64ths, a difference of 1/64th.

The new specs, designed to slow the Cup cars, went into effect for Saturday’s qualifying session and for Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The smaller openings should reduce the engine output by approximately 15 horsepower.