NASCAR rolls out rules pack­age up­dates, aims to fur­ther in­crease qual­ity of rac­ing

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - Staff RE­PORT

NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

The num­bers show the NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries has fea­tured some of its best rac­ing in years this sea­son.

Three of the first 14 races set track records for green flag passes for the lead – At­lanta (44), Auto Club (51) and Bristol (40) – a stat founded in 2005 that com­piles lead changes all around the race track while un­der green flag con­di­tions.

In ad­di­tion, two races – the Day­tona 500 and Phoenix – tied for the seventh clos­est MOV since the in­cep­tion of electronic tim­ing and scor­ing in 1993.

Fur­ther­more, there were 213 green flag passes for the lead at Tal­ladega, six passes for the lead shy of ty­ing the record for most green flag passes for the lead in a sin­gle race (Tal­ladega, 2013).

Many of NASCAR’s key fig­ures at­tribute the afore­men­tioned su­perla­tives to the new lower down­force rules pack­age im­ple­mented in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries for 2016.

“It’s (lower down­force pack­age) great,” 13-time Most Pop­u­lar Driver Dale Earn­hardt Jr. said ear­lier this sea­son. “Ev­ery week has been fun, fun, fun. The cars are fun to drive, slip­ping and slid­ing. It’s a good chal­lenge and I’m en­joy­ing it.”

Dur­ing Sun­day’s FireKeep­ers 400 at Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speed­way, NASCAR de­buted rules up­dates to fur­ther lower the down­force. De­creas­ing down­force makes the car harder to con­trol and low­ers speeds in the turns, thereby cre­at­ing a higher po­ten­tial for pass­ing.

Last month, NASCAR added welded truck trail­ing arms and new brake cool­ing guide­lines to its rules pack­age. On Sun­day, and in the July 9 con­test at Ken­tucky Speed­way, the sanc­tion­ing body will up­date the rules pack- age by re­duc­ing skew-gen­er­ated side­force by set­ting the rear toe zero. It will also make three aero­dy­nam­ics pack­age tweaks to lower aero-gen­er­ated down­force and side­force: short­en­ing the spoiler from 3.5 inches to 2.5 inches; re­duc­ing the split­ter to two inches; and re­siz­ing the deck fin to match the spoiler.

“The newer, more im­proved, less down­force side force pack­age, that should be re­ally in­ter­est­ing,” said Brad Ke­selowski, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries cham­pion. “I heard the top speeds were re­ally, re­ally fast but the corner speeds were down which I think should pro­vide a re­ally good plat­form for side-by­side rac­ing and open­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to pass. I think we are all re­ally en­cour­aged by that. It is a huge vari­able for our teams that they will all work through. I think it has a tremen­dous po­ten­tial to be the fu­ture di­rec­tion for our sport. That is re­ally in­ter­est­ing and ex­cit­ing to me per­son­ally.”

“NASCAR is do­ing what it takes, the teams are do­ing what it takes to go out and fig­ure out how to make this the best rac­ing it can be,” said Carl Ed­wards, a 27-time race win­ner. “This is go­ing to be a blast. These cars, when you drive them side­ways at 200 mph, you’re close to peo­ple and you’re able to pres­sure them and race like that, that’s as good as it gets.

“I’m very ex­cited about [this past week at] Michi­gan and Ken­tucky. It’s like Christ­mas for me.”

GETTY IMAGES FOR NASCAR

Dur­ing Sun­day’s FireKeep­ers 400 at Michi­gan In­ter­na­tional Speed­way, NASCAR de­buted rules up­dates to fur­ther lower the down­force. The move will slow down cars around turns, cre­at­ing a higher po­ten­tial for pass­ing.

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