Drivers speak positively on the new short track rules package
It’s true, we race cars. But, the packages drastically change the characteristics of those cars and the product they bring to the race track.
Last year, NASCAR introduced a bold new rules package. The rear spoilers were increased to 8 inches and front downforce was added as well.
The high downforce package is still in place in 2020, for tracks larger than one mile. That’s due to the fact that it drastically improved the product on speedway ovals.
However, the short tracks suffered. At tracks under 1-mile, drivers complained of an inability to pass. The added downforce created a larger wake. Drivers would lose the nose as they got to the bumper of the car ahead.
For short tracks, it’s all about getting a run off the corner then racing them into the next corner. The high downforce package made this hard to accomplish.
For 2020, NASCAR has reversed their strategy on short tracks. The rear spoiler was trimmed from 8 inches to just 2.75 inches. Front downforce was also trimmed.
Last weekend, that package made it’s debut. And we saw a great race at Phoenix Raceway. Drivers had options and we saw door to door action for the lead all day.
That’s a good sign for the sport. Later this year, NASCAR will return to Phoenix Raceway for their championship event.
But, just how much better was it? By the numbers, drastically better.
Green Flag Passes
Short Track Rules Package
March 10th, 2019
NASCAR Cup Series
Green Flag Passes: 1,306
Most Passes: Kyle Larson (76)
Least Passes: Cody Ware (2)
March 8th, 2020
NASCAR Cup Series
Green flag Passes: 2,241
Most Passes: Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola (103)
Least Passes: Garrett Smithley (2)
Note: The data above is counted on the loops. Meaning any pass scored at a loop, not just the start finish line. This is true for the 2019 and 2020 data.
Drivers react to NASCAR’s short track rules package
Kyle Busch was one of the most vocal drivers last year as he spoke out against the high downforce rules package on short tracks.
Related: Kyle Busch knocks the rules package after Dover; NASCAR responds
Related: Kyle Busch snapped when asked about the new rules package (2019)
All is well again:
“You could definitely follow (other cars) a lot closer,” Kyle Busch said after Phoenix.
“You could get up into a guy’s left rear and be close enough to their left rear and follow them close enough that you could try to make a move on them or make a run on them up off the corner. Get them a little loose to be able to make a move on them.”
“I felt like there was certainly some positives,” Busch concluded.
NASCAR comments on the short track package after Phoenix Raceway
“I think you certainly want to see a lot of what we saw today: a lot of lead changes. And this comes from a lot of work from the entire industry, going back to Nashville (Tennessee), getting everybody together, talking about what could we collectively do for the good of the sport and specifically for this race track,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said on pit road after the race.
“The race teams came together, the drivers, Goodyear and I think all that played a part today. Not only tire wear, PJ1 that was applied but the rules package as well.”
“We saw a lot of different things happen during the race, some emotions run pretty high, which is what you want. A lot of comers and goers and ultimately a really good race.”
“I think you saw some dominant cars for sure, but not only were drivers and teams able to catch the leader but even when someone was passed for the lead, they were able to go back and re-take the lead, which is always something you like to see and multiple cars were able to do that.”
Kyle Busch snapped when asked about the new rules package (2019)
Busch knocks the rules package after Dover; NASCAR responds
Kyle Busch says the cars are ‘dangerously fast’ at Dover this weekend
Kevin Harvick mirrors comments from Kyle Busch on the rules package