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Stewart critical of NASCAR's engine cooling rules at restrictor-plate tracks

Tony StewartTony Stewart was critical of NASCAR rules hampering engine cooling at restrictor-plate tracks, making sarcastic comments following Sunday's race at Talladega.

The reigning Sprint Cup champion endured a tough end to his afternoon, finishing 24th and four laps down on the winner after being involved in an incident during a late restart, having led 16 laps before that.

NASCAR kept the technical package unchanged from the season-opener at Daytona, where the sanctioning body issued a number of rules aimed at breaking the two-car tandems that prevailed for the past two years at restrictor-plate tracks.

Speaking after the race, Stewart was sarcastic in his comments in reference to how the race unfolded from his perspective, with engine operating temperatures running higher than usual due to the cooling restrictions imposed.

"The racing was awesome," said Stewart. "It's fun to be able to race and have to watch the (temperature) gauges at the same time. It makes us as drivers have to do so much more.

"Being able to make yourself run on the apron and everything else to try to get clean air, it makes it fun."

Jeff Gordon, the winningest Cup driver at restrictor-plate tracks, believes technical rules need to be adjusted before the series returns to Talladega during this year's Chase.

He reckons drivers avoided racing aggressively for most of Sunday's afternoon Cup race as there was too much emphasis needed on keeping engine temperatures under control.

"I think that we all knew coming in here that the opening on the grill and some of the things were probably not sufficient," said Gordon.

"I think that would be nice next time we come back here to have a little concession for Talladega. In July, I don't know what we are going to do in Daytona in July. There is just that fine line between getting the temperatures right and not being able to push.

"To me right now we are teetering on the side of having to be just a little too conservative. I'd like to be up there taking it three-wide, pushing cars and making some good exciting moves because I know we have a car that can be up front, but it's just too risky at this point in the race."

Four cars appeared listed as retired with engine-related issues following Sunday's race, two of those happening on Hendrick Motorsports units which suffered with oil pump-related issues.

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