NASCAR Once Again Pleased With Low-Downforce Aerodynamics Packageby Hunter Thomas September 7, 2015 0 comments
Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas
DARLINGTON, SC – Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 resembled the days of old at Darlington Raceway, thanks to the new low-downforce aerodynamics package NASCAR introduced earlier this season at Kentucky Speedway.
In July at Kentucky Speedway, there were 13 lead changes at the start-finish line, and during this past weekend’s race at Darlington Raceway, fans were treated to 24 lead changes at the start-finish line, along with 11 total different leaders. The race saw plenty of side-by-side racing that kept the fans on their feet all race long. Now that the two low-downforce races were a success, it’s time for NASCAR to analyze and compare the data.
“I think from NASCAR’s perspective tonight, we certainly liked what we saw on the racetrack,” NASCAR’s Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, Steve O’Donnell said. “All of the early indicators were really positive from the fans.
“A lot of data for us to go back and absorb like we did coming out of Kentucky and the other races, so from our perspective, we’ll go and do that and spend the proper time with the industry, with the race teams, with the drivers. A decision probably will be towards the end of the month on our rules package.”
Throughout the night, teams were able to use their 12 sets of tires, plus a set left over from practice, however, many teams ran out of fresh tires towards the end of the race. Darlington Raceway, the tack “Too Tough To Tame” is notorious for chewing away the Goodyear tires, so initially, it appears tire wear isn’t a concern following Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500. To complete the race, it took 4 hours, 28 minutes and 35 seconds, due to the 18 cautions that lasted 89 laps. Even though there were a race record number of cautions, topping the old record of 17, the race produced plenty of quality entertainment.
“Well I look at it as were the fans entertained, and when I looked down towards the end of the race, they were on their feet, and so I think if you asked most of the race fans here tonight did they enjoy four-and-a-half hours of racing action, I think they’d say yes,” O’Donnell said. “For us, it’s always about the entertaining racing on the track. I think the drivers delivered that tonight. Certainly something we want to look at you never know if you’re going to have a record number of cautions or four cautions, so those are things we’ll look at and evaluate, but all-in-all, we’re really pleased.”
The most positive aspect of the low-downforce package was that the majority of folks were entertained. Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick put on a fantastic show for the fans in the closing laps of the race. It was a finish that highly resembled an event you’d see in a highlight reel of Darlington Raceway.
“Everybody has developed this package,” said Carl Edwards, Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 winner. “I believe it’s pretty obvious that it races really well and it’s really fun to do and it’s fun to watch. But even if we don’t, I hope next year they really consider going farther this direction. When you watch David Pearson’s car run around here the other day and you go back and watch some of those old races, we weren’t racing aerodynamic devices. I really think tonight, for me as a race car driver, that’s the stuff I dream about, 25 laps to go Southern 500, I’m racing with two champions, we’re swapping the lead back and forth and I think you’re able to do that because there’s less aerodynamic influence and the tires fall off and it’s really fun.
“I really applaud NASCAR for running that package here,” Edwards continued. “I think it’s really cool that they’re able to go that direction or are willing to. I just hope they keep going more.”
Moving forward, NASCAR didn’t confirm anything, but look for aspects of the low-downforce aerodynamics package to be highly considered for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The two races where the aerodynamics package was implemented produced some of the best racing the industry has seen all season long, and it has received great reviews to go along with it.
“I think you take what we’ve seen in all of our races so far,” O’Donnell said. “We’ll come out of here, and we’ll meet with all of the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). We’ll probably bring some of the drivers, some of the crew members and the OEMs and Goodyear together, talk about everything we’ve seen and where we want to go forward with the ‘16 package.”