CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR will test changes for the 2017 aero package in two races this season in their continuing effort to remove downforce from the cars and improve competition.
NASCAR announced Thursday that modifications to the aerodynamic package will be implemented for the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway and the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. These are designed to further reduce the amount of downforce the cars generate and lead to more improvement in the on-track product across the board in the Sprint Cup Series.
“I think we look at it as a never-ending journey; if we can improve we’re going to do that,” Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said of continuing to make adjustments. “We wanted to go the direction of low downforce, see how that worked, not kind of go all the way in and hope that we are directionally right. And we are seeing that play out. We’ve seen some great racing at the beginning of the year.
“But we also knew that we had some more levers that we could pull if the direction kind of proved out, so we’ve tried some of those things. We’ve tested it and what we’ve also wanted to do is lower some of the corner speeds to allow for even more passing. That was one of the areas where we’ve seen minimal change, but there are some levers we can pull to really drive that down.”
The changes include reducing the spoiler size from 3.5 to 2.5 inches, a two-inch reduction of the splitter and resizing the deck fin.
These are in addition to the changes already implemented in the past few weeks such as welding the truck arm mounts and reducing the number of brake fans the cars can run.
“We have worked collectively on some directions we want to go in, but to do that right we think the final step is to let that play out on one or two tracks,” O’Donnell said. “And these are the two — Kentucky and Michigan — that we’ve played out and let the teams concentrate really on what they’ve done to prepare for the year. We think that’s manageable and that’ll give us enough data to look at for 2017.”
This follows a trend NASCAR started last year where they tested the lower-downforce package currently being used at Kentucky and Darlington Raceway. Both races received rave reviews from drivers, media and fans.