A new NASCAR technical bulletin has teams scrambling to book wind tunnel time this week, preparing for a series of aerodynamic changes designed to improve safety and increase competition.
mandate shorter side skirts on NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars beginning this
weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, while also requiring full-length air
deflectors – also known as “shark fins” -- on the roofs, rear windows and trunk
lids on tracks of two miles or more.
Most of the
changes have already been tested by the sanctioning body as part of recent
Goodyear tire tests.
President of Competition Robin Pemberton said he is hopeful the changes will keep
cars on the ground during high-speed crashes, while also removing some of the
aerodynamic advantage enjoyed by race leaders on intermediate tracks.
“It’s a marginal change,” said Pemberton, “but it does take downforce off the
Drivers remain split
on whether the changes will significantly impact competition. Former series
champion Matt Kenseth said, “I think they’re just trying to make it a little
easier to pass (and) take a little bit of downforce and sideforce off the cars
so the lead car doesn’t have quite as big of an advantage.”
Martin Truex, Jr. – currently sixth in
championship points – said that at least in the short term, the changes may
benefit front-running teams. “The bigger teams will figure it out first,” he
said. “They have the resources to book wind tunnel time and determine exactly
how these changes will affect their cars. The low-budget teams will need more
time to figure it out.”