Tony Stewart Says More Work to Do on Low Downforce Packageby Kyle Pokrefky January 24, 2016 0 comments
For many drivers, fans and pundits of the sport, NASCAR’s move to a lower downforce package for the standard aero package for the Sprint Cup Series is a step in the right direction for its on-track product.
However, the new package shouldn’t be viewed as the end of the line for improvements to be made to the series’ race package.
Speaking at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Media Tour on Thursday, Tony Stewart stated that NASCAR has only just begun to scratch the surface with taking downforce off of the cars.
Along with his statement on his personal preference when it comes to the cars’ aerodynamic package, the three-time Cup champion also warned that teams may find ways to add back whatever downforce was lost for a competitive edge.
“They haven’t taken enough off for me yet,” Stewart said. “They’ve just scratched the surface on taking downforce off and the problem is the amount they’ve taken off most likely the teams will find a way to get it back to exactly where it was last year.
“We understand why NASCAR is taking small steps with it, it’s making sure Goodyear can keep up with the change and not get everything out of balance right off the bat.
“They’re a long way from getting the cars the way I would like them ultimately.”
Entering his final season as a competitor in NASCAR, Stewart said that he is pleased with the direction the sport is going in terms of improving its racing product and points to the increased downforce from years past as a reason for his recent on-track struggles.
The driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet is currently in the middle of his longest-ever winless streak in Cup, having competed in 77 races since his last victory.
Stewart’s average finishes from 2013-to-2015 have also been career worsts for the former IndyCar champion, with respective figures of 16.1, 20.0 and 24.8 eclipsing his previous career worst of 14.6 from 2003.
“The cars have changed a lot the last couple of years,” Stewart noted. “The rules package with no ride height rule – we’ve got so much downforce in these cars that the way you drive them now versus the way we drove them when I started in the series years ago is totally different.
“I’d say the last couple of years I’ve had a harder time adapting to how the cars have changed more than anything, but the good news is it’s starting to go back to the way that I think a lot of the drivers really want it to go.”
Stewart also praised NASCAR’s seemingly newfound willingness to have an open dialogue with drivers about the problems facing the sport.
Although his time as a competitor in the sport may be drawing to a close, the open communication between officials and competitors leaves the 48-time race winner feeling optimistic about the sport’s future.
“I’m really proud of NASCAR right now and the fact that they’re very open and thinking outside the box,” Stewart said. “There’s the traditionalist that wants it the same as it’s always been, but there’s people in NASCAR that are smart enough to look outside of the box and say ‘this is a different era, we’ve got to make changes.’
“To be a part of that and see that from my side is pretty exciting for the future.”
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images