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Steve O'Donnell: New aero rules "in the best interest of the sport"

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Steve O'Donnell: New aero rules "in the best interest of the sport"
By:
Oct 2, 2018, 9:55 PM

NASCAR said Tuesday its new 2019 rules package is not to promote “pack racing” but create better racing with changes that could encourage more manufacturer participation.

Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry DeWalt and Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Shell Pennzoil green flag start
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Steve O'Donnell
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Richmond, Justin Allgaier, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Dove Men + Care lead the field at the start
NASCAR Senior Vice President Steve O'Donnell talks about adding SAFER barriers to the track following Kyle Busch's crash
Steve O'Donnell
Huge crash on lap 54
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Lowe's for Pros

“Let me dispel the myth that NASCAR is interested in pack racing everywhere,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing redevelopment officer, said Tuesday. “That is not at all what this package is.

“This package is to take the best from the short tracks, the best from the superspeedways and meet in between. Do we want more cars on the lead lap? Absolutely. Do we want tighter racing? Absolutely. Do we expect three-wide every lap? No.

“The best drivers and the best teams are still going to win the race.”

The package

The 2019 aero rules for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, as expected, are similar to what was run in this year’s All-Star Race, but with some significant changes.

There will be two primary packages used on tracks greater than a mile in length and their use will be tailored to specific tracks. Both involve using tapered spacers to reduce speeds.

A combination of a smaller tapered spacer to reduce engine horsepower to a target goal of 550 (about 150hp more than was used in this year’s All-Star Race) and front aero ducts will be used in 17 races.

Five other races will be run with the smaller taper spacer but with no aero ducts (both Poconos, Atlanta, Darlington and Homestead). Cars will use brake ducts to help cool the cars’ brakes.

At tracks less than 1.33 miles in length, cars will have 750 horsepower.

Tapered spacers will also replace the use of restrictor-plates at Daytona and Talladega following the 2019 Daytona 500.

NASCAR hopes the engine changes will prove more compatible to new manufacturers that may be interested in joining the sport.

“It’s not just the 2019 (rules) decision, this is what we feel is in the best interest of the sport – to have a healthier team ownership, have a healthier relationship with our current (manufacturers) and attract new, potential (manufacturers) and attract new owners and this plays into that,” O’Donnell said.

“We’ve talked to the engine builders, the reason we went to the horsepower level we’re at, it gives us that option to be more relevant. It gives us that option to look at new technology in the future and our current package doesn’t do that.”

Looking to the future

The changes are also in line with the development of the next generation of race car that will be used.

“If we said we wanted to develop a new car today based on what we’re running today, what we have today is not the direction where we want to be long-term,” O’Donnell said. “We’re actually going to be able to make some tweaks as we go and develop the next gen car.”

Several Cup drivers have expressed their displeasure over a reduction in horsepower as the rules package has been developed. Others point to a recent run of competitive events and question the need for change.

“Has the racing been good? Yes,” O’Donnell said. “But it’s our job to make it better.”

 

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Series NASCAR Cup
Author Jim Utter