Aric Almirola Sheds Light on 2016 Race Packageby Kyle Pokrefky March 13, 2015 0 comments
Photo credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Although no drastic changes have been made at once to the Sprint Cup Series’s sixth-generation race car since its introduction to competition in 2013, the development of the Gen-6 car has been progressively evolving year by year.
2015 can be viewed as a ‘transition year’ for the current Sprint Cup vehicle as changes made to the car for this season have seemingly been made in preparation for next year’s race package.
For this year’s aerodynamic and power race package, the Cup grid are currently utilizing a car that uses less horsepower and has less downforce acting on it than last year’s car.
Next year’s car on the other hand is slated to have a smaller splitter, smaller radiator pan, and a shorter rear spoiler – making for a car with much less downforce acting upon it.
If a Tuesday Goodyear tire test at Charlotte Motor Speedway is an indication of how the 2016 car will race, from Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola’s perspective, next year’s car should provide for some interesting racing for both drivers and fans of the sport.
“We have not had a car in the wind tunnel with the 2016 rules package yet, so this is all just purely based on the information we’ve been given from NASCAR from their technical studies,” Almirola said. “But it was just kind of an even total less downforce, not less front, not less rear shift, but just total less downforce and it kind of felt like that on the race track.
“The cars didn’t have as much grip. We were going about six or seven miles an hour faster at the end of the straightaway at the end of the straightaway than the 2015 package, but we were about 9-10 miles an hour slower in the middle of the corner. So from that aspect I liked that. I think all the drivers are kind of wanting to go slower in the middle of the corner, not slower than our competition, but just slower in general because that helps Goodyear bring a tire that lives longer.
“Those center of the corner speeds when they’re really high like we’ve seen, that puts a lot of load in the tires and it creates a lot of heat in the tire and it just creates a nightmare for Goodyear to make a tire to live through that. So if we can continue down this road with our rules package and continue to get the center of the corner speeds down to where we have to let all the way off the gas and use some brake and those kind of things, I think it will open up a big window for Goodyear to be able to bring a more softer tire with more grip that wears out and it’s gonna be durable as well.”
With the decrease in the levels of downforce effecting the car, the cars were a bit more of a handful to wrestle around Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 24-degree banked corners. But, if you ask Almirola, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m excited about it,” Almirola said. “I thought overall the car, when we went to the 2016 package, slipped and slid around the race track a little bit more, which I was perfectly fine with, and I think it has the potential to put on a really good race and I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky