Speaking before the media earlier today, Jimmie Johnson says the Driver’s Council has discussed changes desired for the upcoming trip to the “World Center of Racing” next week.
During his media availability at Sonoma Raceway this afternoon, the driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was asked whether there have been any discussions on making changes to the restrictor plate aerodynamic package ahead of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
“Yeah, I think we had one Driver Council meeting since,” he said. “I don’t remember spending a ton of time talking on it. I know following Talladega there were a lot of suggestions made.”
He also added that he made some suggestions right after last month’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, in which he was caught in a 21-car wreck in turn 1 with 26 laps to go.
“I certainly had some opinions of why passing was as difficult as it was and the energy that it created in the pack and the need to kind of bump-draft and slam-draft and then crash, like that whole process that took place. I know that they don’t want to over-react and we’re going to a different track in Daytona that works a little bit differently than Talladega does. So, I feel comfortable with it. I think, ideally, we would love to have the side draft be less impactful. We’d love to have a push from another car be more beneficial. And with the gear and horsepower reduction, I think that took away some of that offensive opportunity that existed. But, we’ll see how Daytona races and take it from there. I know that there’s another Driver Council meeting down in Daytona. It will probably be top of mind for everybody then.”
The current restrictor plate aero package has been in place with minor changes made to it since the 2013 Daytona 500. For the most part, the only real change to it is usually the size of the holes in the restrictor plates in order to add or reduce horsepower.
NASCAR has announced that the package as it was used at Talladega in May and the Daytona 500 in February will be used next weekend. This is in spite of three cars getting airborne in the most recent race at Talladega.
“The one car that got in the air on its own was the 20 car (Matt Kenseth) and we looked at that,” said NASCAR Executive Vice-President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell earlier today at Sonoma. He added that NASCAR is “satisfied with the race package we have.”
Despite the lack of major changes, Johnson says the drivers still notice the more minor ones.
“They don’t change a ton. There’s some sensitivity change to the dynamics and how it works, but the package is still very similar. You just notice or feel like last time you could clear a car more easily, or I could get up and push somebody a little bit harder and give them a run around a car. So, it’s more subtle things that we notice. Certainly, when you’re in the car after 300 or 400 miles, you can’t complete a pass, the little bump turns into a nudge and into a slam and then we have chaos like we did at Talladega. So, I guess it if gets off to a slow start, you can probably bank on a wild finish.”