Last weekend’s race at Darlington used the low downforce package used at Kentucky in July, along with a softer tire compound. On Friday at Richmond, many in the NASCAR community, from the drivers to fans, seemed to be in support of the program.
“I really love that style of racing. As a fan growing up I specifically watched stock car racing because that’s the style of racing it was,” said Southern 500 winner Carl Edwards. Edwards went on to say, “I really applaud NASCAR for going that direction at Darlington and for going that direction in Kentucky, and, like I’ve said, just some downforce taken away.”
Ryan Newman, on the Chase bubble, also applauded the move to this new package. “I like the low downforce package. What we had at Darlington I thought was good racing. That has always been my personal favorite [kind of car],” Newman said during a press conference. “The impact of the first car or the lead car is less than on everybody else. It’s exponential as it goes through the field. I think that kind of puts us back to where our sport was [at] its best racing wise in my opinion.”
“I’m a firm believer in the low downforce package,” said Clint Bowyer before the first Richmond practice Friday morning. “I think it makes that seat a lot more useful and a lot more important as far as the overall package goes and I think the tire really predicts a lot of different things too.”
Even the Century Poll, a new fan/media/garage poll instituted this year, was almost unanimous among those polled in their basic thoughts on the issue- less downforce.
On Thursday, between the Sunday race and the Friday media sessions, NASCAR seemed to have already responded to the support for lower downforce in the weeks of support before Friday. Chip Ganassi Racing engineer Eric Jacuzzi leaked this photo on his Instagram page:
A ton of work by a lot of people made this car a reality. Hopefully all of the work pays off and we’ve made the least aero sensitive car of the modern era. Low Downforce + Low Sideforce + Low Yaw Moment should equal a challenging but fair car for our drivers, and a car that is a big improvement when in traffic. Off to Kansas on Monday. #nascar
A photo posted by Eric Jacuzzi (@eric_jacuzzi) on
Although it is currently unknown who all is testing on Monday, we do know Bowyer will be there.
As far as the Chase goes, NASCAR has held firm in saying that they will not be changing the rules package at any point in the Chase, with the possible exception of the Talladega restrictor plate race.
Personally, I feel the best course of action for NASCAR is to find something that works and stick with it for all races next year except for the restrictor plate races of Daytona and Talladega. Comparing the quality of racing from Darlington and Michigan, which was run with the higher downforce package, you’ll find a world of difference in ability to pass.
Afterward, make very little adjustments to it over the course of three-four years. I feel the best racing generally comes after teams run a package for a couple of years or so, and keeping with the package would make it easier for fans to follow along and know exactly how the cars work.
Patience and low downforce are the keys to excitement in this sport, and hopefully there will be a lot of one thing and little of another come next year.