All-Star Aero Package Has Doubters In Garages

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 13 2018

The aero package used by the Xfinity Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year will be used by Cup cars at the All-Star race in Charlotte next month. Good idea? Drivers talked about that in Bristol on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Ashley R Dickerson)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – NASCAR drivers admit something needs to be done to improve the racing on 1.5-mile tracks, but several of them said Friday they didn’t know if the rules package announced for next month’s All-Star race would be the solution.

Implemented for the first time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, it’s the same competition package used last year in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the flat 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That event had record numbers in leaders, lead changes and green-flag passes for the lead. However, Cup drivers are skeptical as to whether it can provide the same success for them at Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of the May 19 All-Star race.

I think Indy might serve that package better with the long straightaways to be able to take advantage of the way the aero works on the car,” seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson said during preparations for Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

For the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star race, each car will have aero ducts, a six-inch high spoiler with two 12-inch ears, a restrictor plate and the 2014-style splitter.

Kyle Busch doesn’t like the package because he doesn’t favor “slowing the lead car and bringing that guy back to the rest of the field.”

“That’s not what I signed up to be a NASCAR driver for is to scrunch the field up and take the advantage away from those guys that are fast,” Busch said.

“The fact of the matter is that we’re trying to orchestrate something that doesn’t quite exist. The trucks sometimes put on a good race. They’re obviously more aerodynamically challenged and such when you come up on a guy, but from what I understand, what they’re shooting for is 165 (mph) and that’s way slower than a truck runs. That’s going to bunch us up even more as far as the Cup guys go, I would imagine. We’ll see what it creates.”

Eric Jones considered the aero package “pretty interesting” at Indy.

“By yourself, you were wide open … but in the pack, in traffic, you’d have to lift a little bit,” Jones said. “It was interesting to try to get runs and set yourself up to make moves at Indy, I thought, though it did make for more passing. Honestly, if you look back at the race, it was probably a better race than what had been there in the past in the Xfinity Series.

“At Charlotte, I don’t know how it’s going to work. I think the intention is for us to be wide open and be similar to restrictor-plate racing. I don’t know if it’s going to work out like that because I do think there’s still going to be some handling aspects. I think you’re probably not going to be able to be wide open in traffic when you’re behind other cars. I honestly don’t have a good feel for it; what it’s going to be like on a 1.5-mile like Charlotte, but it is going to be way different. It’s not going to be anything like what you’ve seen at Charlotte in the past for sure.”  

Like Jones, Kyle Larson doesn’t know what to expect from the aero package. However, he believes the racing might come across as more exciting to the fans.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has taken a wait-and-see attitude.

We’ll have to see how it plays out,” Stenhouse said. “I think the racing will probably be a lot closer.  I do think that when you reduce the speeds the handling isn’t as big of an issue and so I think the racing will be probably a little more intense.  

“We’ll just have to see how the fans like it.  I think that’s the biggest thing we want to do is to make sure the fans enjoy our races and, however that may be, I think is something we need to look at.”

Johnson and Kurt Busch believe the All-Star race is the perfect place for NASCAR to test different aero packages under race conditions.

“There’s really nothing to lose,” Johnson continued. “It might not be the package we love and want, but I’m sure it will get us a step closer and we’ll continue to evolve; largely because so many people are willing to take this chance at the All-Star race.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 13 2018
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