NASCAR president Steve Phelps talks rule changes for 2019 and beyond

Steve Phelps on the new rules package for 2019 and future changes

Next year, NASCAR has a shiny new rules package that’s set to go into effect.

17 of the 36 races: Horsepower will be reduced from 750 to an ideal 550. The engine spacer will be reduced to .922-inch versus the current 1.17-inch hole. In addition, aero ducts will be installed on the front end. Both of these will be the package on tracks over 1-mile.

The Daytona 500 is excluded from the two items above.

5 more races: Both Pocono races in addition to races at Atlanta, Darlington and Homestead – These five races will run with the new spacer but without the aero ducts.

All races: A new taller spoiler will be installed measuring 8 inches. A larger front splitter and a wider radiator pan will also be used. Both of those items will increase downforce.

Martin Truex Jr and Kevin Harvick at Homestead-Miami Speedway
HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 18: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Ford, race during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2018 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Why is NASCAR changing the rules?

Because the racing isn’t what it used to be.

All of these things are designed to tighten up the field. The aero ducts move air to the nose of the trailing car. This will help prevent the aero push that we see today where a car loses downforce and can’t pass as a result of being close to the car in front.

The added downforce will slow the cars down. The smaller restrictor plate will slow them down further. At slower speeds, aerodynamic importance is reduced. The faster you go, the more air in compressed onto the body. When that’s taken away, it’s a problem.

Speed is NASCAR. But, too much speed and the racing just isn’t going to be any good. NASCAR is trying to slow the cars down to the speeds they were in the 1990’s. It’s less about speed and more about reducing the decency on air.

Denny Hamlin leads Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – SEPTEMBER 10: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Possibilities Toyota, races during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 10, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

NASCAR president Steve Phelps talks the new rules package

How big of a role will the new rules package play as a savior for the decline in TV ratings?

“The rules package was put in place because we want to have the most competitive racing we can. We believe the 2019 rules package is exactly that,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps stated during a press conference.

“What affects it has on ratings or other things that are outside of our control, I can’t say. I can that this racing today which is arguably the best we’ve ever had, is going to get better.”

“We have a promise to our fans. That promise is close, competitive, side by side racing. We believe this 2019 rules package will give us that.”

“We’re going to be laser focused on driving ratings. Our digital and social numbers are doing incredibly well. So, fans are engaging in different ways. We’re also going to be focus on driving ticket sales, it’s important.”

2018 NASCAR champion Joey Logano and NASCAR President Steve Phelps with Team Penske at Homestead-Miami Speedway
HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 18: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2018 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
NASCAR president on future NASCAR changes?

Is the inspection process going to change over the off season?

“We’re going to look at the inspection process. Will there be changes to it? There might be. That will be up to Steve and his team to figure out the best way to do that.”

“We’ll have discussions with our race teams and make sure that people are comfortable with the direction that we’re going in. But, at the end of the day, we will make that decision.”

Hybrid NASCAR engine?

“Is electrification on the future, potentially yes. Can I see a time in the future where we will have that? I definitely do.”

“When we get there. How we get there. What it looks like. There’s a lot of work to do between now and then.”

“I can assure you that we are looking at it, right now.”

“Making sure that teams are healthy will help us in all three series. We have made some changes from a structural standpoint in the truck series. That has made that series more viable. Take a look at the MT1 engine.”

The MT1 engine was a game changer in the NASCAR Truck Series for 2018. It’s a spec engine that was designed to save the smaller teams money. It also happened to be faster. Over the course of the season, several big teams made the switch to the MT1. the 2018 series champion driver Brett Moffitt won it all with the spec engine.


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Kyle Larson expects the restrictor plate package to be exciting for the fans (before the race)

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Steve Phelps | NASCAR