NASCAR made their intermediate tracks a lot better in 2019; Short tracks suffered; NASCAR is already looking to fix it
For 2020, NASCAR brought in a new rules package. The aim was to bunch up the field and create more passing opportunities.
They increased downforce dramatically. The front spiltter size was increased as was the height of the rear spoiler. They also added aero ducts. In addition, at tracks over 1-mile, the horsepower was cut by 200hp.
It worked, for intermediate tracks. Green flag passes were up significantly across the board at those tracks. Even on superspeedways, the passes were up.
But, the short tracks suffered dramatically. Tracks under a mile still have the 750hp package. They run the same increased downforce package as well.
The cars are faster than ever at all the short tracks. But, the corner speeds are way up. Those faster corner speeds only increase the dirty air.
Short tracks require bumper to bumper racing. To pass, you need to somehow get a better drive off the corner. As they race to the next corner, they only need to get a foot to the inside. Being a foot better off the last corner, is what makes passing.
But, it’s hard to do that when drivers can’t run on the bumper of the car ahead without loosing the nose of their car.
With the increased downforce, the short tracks are broken.
That’s not good. Especially since NASCAR has a focus on short tracks for 2020. There’s also a development freeze, which means we won’t see much change.
ISM Raceway was one of the wort rated races of the season. Yet, ISM Raceway will host the NASCAR championship race in 2020.
NASCAR is already looking for a fix at ISM Raceway for 2020
“We need to make sure we are working with our industry, our teams, our (manufacturers) and Goodyear, to make sure that the racing we have in Phoenix both in the spring as well as our championship next year is as good as it can be,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps stated.
“We’re going to announce that 2021 schedule, as you said, in the spring, probably around April 1st, which is a self‑imposed deadline that we have for ourselves.”
“Could that change forwards or backwards a little bit? It could.”
“Our promise to our fans, and we’ll do it right here, is that we are going to provide the best racing we can at our short tracks.”
“I think we’ve over delivered on the intermediate tracks, and we will make sure that when we get to Phoenix in the spring, and some of the other racetracks that are short tracks, that they’re going to have better racing.”
NASCAR looking to make short track racing great again
“We’re going to work with our teams in order to figure out how we do that, work with our OEMs to figure out how we do that. Everyone knows I’m not an engineer, I’m not going to play one now.”
“I am confident, having spoken to people who are far smarter than I am in this space, that there are things we can do. And I think our teams are excited about trying to partner with us to figure out what that looks like.”
A lot of the talk around making short tracks better is in regards to the rear spoiler. NASCAR is already looking at that.
“There are people far smarter than I am that could figure that out. Yes, could we go to something that is a lower downforce package and do we think that will probably be one of the answers that we could look at to be successful on the short tracks? Yes.”
“Whether it’s cutting off the spoiler, other opportunities for us to take some of the downforce off there, those are things that we’ll explore. No specific timing.”
Phelps on the 2021 NASCAR schedule
2021 is exciting. It’s expected to be a shakeup year. We’re likely to see several new tracks added to the schedules.
In addition, NASCAR is looking for bring in more short tracks and road courses as stated in the past.
“We’re having a lot of discussions right now on the 2021 schedule. And we’re looking at three things when we’re looking at that race schedule.”
“We’re looking at where we’re going to have the most competitive racing that we can have, where we’re going to have full grandstands, and what does that market look like, is it a new market that we can service.”
“There are a lot of discussions that are going on both internally and then with other owners of racetracks. We need to obviously work with Speedway Motorsports, work with the three independent tracks that we have, then the tracks that we own as NASCAR now.”
“Again, we’ll look through that same lens. I think it’s important to do that. This is the first time I’ll go back to the fans. It really is about the fans.”
“We need to make sure we are putting on compelling racing and having full grandstands when we do that.”