Monday, May 11, 2015

Drivers Making Wishes Known On 2016 Rules Package

Stewart is not a fan.
The debate continues over proposed 2016 rule changes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

This year’s package features less horsepower – via judicious use of a tapered spacer – than in recent seasons, along with aerodynamic changes that many observers believed would decrease overall speed and improve competition. It hasn’t necessarily worked out that way.

Decreasing the available horsepower has allowed drivers to run “wide open” into the turns at many tracks, boosting corner speeds and sending lap times plummeting. A number of prominent Sprint Cup Series drivers – Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart among them – have struggled to adapt to the new regulations, while complaining bitterly about them.

Like many of his colleagues, Edwards touts a future reduction in downforce, saying, “Center-of-the-corner speeds are way too high. Our sport is based on guys manhandling the cars and being able to run close (and) we've gone farther and farther away from that because of all the knowledge, engineering and dependence on aero.”

Bowyer: Rules "a little disappointing."
Bowyer called the new 2015 specs, “a little bit disappointing” and “exactly opposite of what all the drivers were asking for and hoping for.” Like Edwards, Bowyer said he believes more “off-throttle time” would improve racing. 

“If you’re wide-open and not lifting, I don’t know how you’re going to get around that car in front of you,” he said. “They’re doing the same.”

Stewart has been even less complimentary, unleashing a profanity filled tirade over his in-car radio following a 33rd-place finish – five laps down – in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Stewart called the sanctioning body “f—ing rocket scientists” that day, despite watching teammate Kevin Harvick celebrate in Victory Lane.

Even three-time 2015 winner Jimmie Johnson criticized the package last weekend at Kansas Speedway, saying high cornering speeds are putting drivers’ lives in danger.

Johnson also has suggestions
"If something fails at the wrong point in time right now, you're going to hurt somebody,” he said. “Hopefully, we don't have that situation. Hopefully, the soft walls and all of our (safety) stuff does its job.

“Every driver wants more off-throttle time,” said Johnson, “(but) how you go about that can be debated for years. The easiest fix would be to take the tapered spacer off and go back to where we were (before the latest change). But the engines shops are cringing at that, due to the expense.”

NASCAR is clearly listening (if not entirely agreeing) and tested a potential 2016 rule package last season at both Charlotte and Michigan. That package included reduced downforce, and while there was discussion of rolling out those specs in this weekend’s Sprint All-Star Race, NASCAR eventually decided not to do so.

"We’re still having discussions with teams, tracks certainly, drivers and Goodyear," explained NASCAR Vice President Steve O'Donnell this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “No decisions have been made yet, but a lot of dialogue is going on. All of that is going on behind the scenes, where we continue to discuss (a rules change) and look toward 2016.”

Edwards, Bowyer, Stewart and Johnson understand that midseason rule changes are both unlikely and prohibitively expensive for race teams. They understand that the prudent course is to make small changes over time, rather than sweeping modifications that may need to be undone down the road. And like a kid at Christmas, they know it’s better to get their wish list in front of Mom and Dad (aka NASCAR), well in advance.

There’s a point to all the grousing, as drivers attempt to communicate their wishes – loud and clear – to the sanctioning body in time to be heard before the 2016 rules are finalized. There is a limit to NASCAR’s flexibility, however.  

O’Donnell said that while the sanctioning body would like to have its 2016 rules completed and in the hands of the teams by August 1, they will not make “change for the sake of change.”


  1. Anonymous4:25 AM

    Gosh, damn...I don't know why the hell most of these teams don't tell NASCAR to take a flying leap. Integrity is something that cannot be under stated for legitimacy and NASCAR time and time again doesn't get that. Stop changing stuff, get off this aero dependency garbage and let the race play out organically as it once was, the best of the best without out the parity that NASCAR so covets. Parity starts with the have and have not's, therefore it will never be equal. HMS has the best money can buy from personnel down to equipment. Other teams that is just not realistic. You cannot fix that, unless NASCAR just lets em' race with the ingenuity that many of the talented men have that are not employed by the likes of Big Rick!

  2. Anonymous7:08 AM

    Some of the best racing I'd seen in year in the 2014 season and somehow somewhere somebody thought I think I can make it better. It's a shame. I wonder sometimes when we get changes like in 2015 if its a product of people having to justify their positions by implementing changes. Just a head scratcher after 2014. Many hoped it would build off of last years racing and be even better. Many of us cringed when they mentioned there would be a different package. But we are just the ones that watch without all the fantastic data to tell us what to think. Now don't get me wrong any NASCAR race is better than most all other motor sports by a wide margin but last year felt really good, this

    1. The trend for the past 25 years has to add cornering stability (faster thru the corner) and limit power (making straight line passing harder).
      It's not producing better racing; it's making tighter fields.

      The V8 Supercars under CAMS has suffered likewise... and they have no clue why only 2 passes for the lead have happened in the recent 8 sprint races!

  3. Anonymous1:30 PM

    Yes, the 2014 season actually had some good racing but NASCAR can't leave it well enough alone and in 2015 we have terrible qualifying and worse racing. Gee, this is supposed to be improvement?

  4. NASCAR will fix this by increasing drag (aero downforce) and decreasing the air intake because "too much speed".
    It's what they did last time...

    When the cars are hammered wide open as a result next year, and drivers complain again, NASCAR will say they responded to drivers' complaints.

    They just don't get it.

  5. This has been happening to the Xfinity Series and Camping World Series for years and yet NASCAR is shocked to find out that this package is awful. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or an engineering degree to figure that if you strip horsepower you will loose top end speed but but the aero on today's racecars will make it up in the corner. That's what happened to the pack oval racing era of the IndyCar Series and it even happened to MotoGp in the 800cc era '07-'12. My ideal solution in every form of racing is to dump a 1,000 hp beast as your engine and take all the damn downforce out of cars, that right there will separate men and women from the boys and girls.

  6. You just watch, unfortunately the All-Star race is going to be a dud because of the wonderful competition package that NASCAR has created for the Cup Series this year. It's best to have the All-Star race this year on 0.25 mi. oval, then there won't be no such thing as aero push. Lol.

  7. Whenever people say "the cars need to cut downforce," it's like no one has learned from the repeated failures of this practice, in the 1998 5&5 Rule and its post-2003 return through the Car Of Tomorrow, advertised as an answer to aeropush when it came out and which yet again failed to produce better racing - immortal remains Jeff Gordon's 2007 New Hampshire presser where he questioned who actually thought the COT would reduce aeropush.

    Andrew Ongais says, "They (NASCAR) just don't get it." Maybe it's the critics who don't get it. It is certainly true that NASCAR's rules packages have not worked to make the racing better, but we haven't seen the alternatives presented by critics work, either - cutting downforce for 2015 has once again backfired as a concept. That's what NASCAR has been doing the last 25 years.

    Lost in the whole rules debate is the continuing inability of radial tires to produce passing. Why NASCAR doesn't try bias-ply tires at some events to get a good gauge on them with today's cars is a mystery, especially given how effective they remain with the K&N cars.

    That the cars are too fast for good racing, not to mention legitimate safety, is clear. It would seem racing has enough knowledge to see that slowing the cars to where they physically can't get above 170-175 at places like Charlotte would open up passing significantly. Racing doesn't need new track speed records anymore; it needs lead changes.