Keselowski: Low downforce package still far from its potential

While generally fans and drivers agree the quality of racing has improved this season in the Sprint Cup Series, former series champion Brad Keselowski believes the full potential of the low downforce package has yet to be achieved.

Keselowski: Low downforce package still far from its potential
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Start: Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota leads
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Jamie McMurray, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Aric Almirola, Richard Petty Motorsports Ford

"The 2016 package was supposed to be about lower downforce and softer tires and we've gone through about three or four races now where the tires have been harder," Keselowski said in an interview at Team Penske headquarters in Mooresville, N.C.

"I think that's showing its way into the racing package.

"As for the reason why? I couldn't really answer that. It's probably a better question for Goodyear but I'm not sure they could answer right now. It certainly has hindered the capability of the rules package to put on less aero-dependent racing."

Following last weekend's Kansas race, several drivers and crew chiefs noted a lack of tire fall-off, particularly when compared to other races this season.

Tire fall-off is generally a necessary component to help increase passing throughout the field.

In fact, in some races this season, teams have been forced to pit for new tires before the end of a scheduled fuel-run, something that was far more common many years ago.

Keselowski admitted there could be a different outcome with the same tire in the fall race at Kansas when the race is run entirely during the day, but he says evidence suggests a bigger issue.

"If Kansas was the only example, I would lean towards that, but at least four of the 11 races have shown it," he said. "You can still have a great race and not live up to the potential of the rules package."

Asked if the series has come close to realizing the full potential of the new rules package, Keselowski was adamant: "No. We've had a few races that have been closer. I think Richmond showed some potential.

"Talladega is an example of where it was supposed to be the same tire and it ended up being a harder tire. We saw a lot of accidents. It was a large contributor, which no one really documented at the time because they didn't have access to the information."

Several drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., noted immediately after the race that they thought the threat of rain – which hovered over the track virtually the entire race – may have contributed to the aggressiveness of drivers, and thus some of the accidents.

Talladega and Martinsville are prime examples, Keselowski said, of the same tires brought back to the track by Goodyear as last season, but teams seeing a different result in their performance.

Cars had a different rules package on them at Martinsville from last year, but the superspeedway rules package remained the same as last year at Talladega.

Keselowski said data available and examined after the races by teams has confirmed the change.

"It really is the biggest unseen piece (of the puzzle) this season," he said.

 

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