NASCAR acts to improve short-track racing

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NASCAR has responded to criticism of the quality of competition in certain rounds of its 2019 headline Cup Series with a raft of aerodynamic measures, primarily aimed at cutting downforce.

During the 2019 season criticism centred around a perceived lack of passing at races, particularly on the shorter ovals of one mile or less and the road courses. The new measures specifically address this issue.

Changes include a significant reduction in rear spoiler height from 8in (203.2mm) to 2.75in (69.85mm), and a front splitter overhang cut from 2in (50.8mm) to 0.25in (6.35mm), and with its ‘wings’ on either side reduced to 2in (50.8mm), from 10.5in (266.7mm).

In addition, the car’s radiator underpan will no longer include vertical sections, further cutting front-end downforce.

The changes will apply to nine of the 24 venues on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule – the ovals at Bristol, Dover, Martinsville, New Hampshire, Phoenix and Richmond, and the Charlotte, Sonoma and Watkins Glen road courses.

Announcing the changes, NASCAR racing development head John Probst stated that the sport’s first and foremost core goal remained to “deliver great racing”, and as a result, performances on the track are constantly evaluated.

“As part of our normal ongoing critique of ourselves and how we’re doing, we just felt like this was a good opportunity for us to improve the on-track product at the short tracks and road courses,” he added.

Probst said that considering changes to aerodynamic packages included close study of previous specifications employed at the various tracks, and it was felt that the package that existed in 2017 produced quality side-by-side racing that fans enjoyed.

“So instead of just coming out and creating a completely new aero spec that’s unknown to possibly us and more importantly the industry, we felt like we’d go back to something that’s tried and true for us and go back to a package that we had run recently,” Probst added.

“At the same time, we did make some small adjustments to that package so that it would fit with our current intermediate speedway package so that we’d minimize further the necessity of the teams to have to develop this package.”

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Andrew Charman is a regular contributor to PMW. He has been working in motorsport for more than 35 years, specialising in Touring Cars and US motorsport, particularly NASCAR.

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