NASCAR Not Making Any Aero Changes For Daytona 500, Why Calls In Changes For Preliminary Races Neede
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – After another year of a ho-hum Clash at Daytona and a snoozefest on Thursday night for the Duels, fans were wanting NASCAR to make some rule changes regarding the current aero package.
I get why they’re wanting them because of the fear of a boring Daytona 500 on Sunday. I mean we’ve literally seen one on track pass for the lead that didn’t involve wrecking someone or pit road sequences.
That’s 180 laps of racing and one pass.
Also, we’ve only seen two wrecks too. Granted, we don’t like to see cars waded up and heading to the junk yard, but a 17 car melee in the Clash and a spin in the Duels was it. The rest of the racing, 98-percent of it during these Speedweeks so far, have seen cars run single file lap after lap up by the SAFER barriers at the top of the banking.
Fans are tuning into see a bright colored high speed parade. Joy!
Drivers have hinted that this is a byproduct of these cars and this package. The common theme is that these cars don’t side draft on the left side well anymore and that the best way to side draft is to do so on the right side of the cars. Well, how can you side draft someone when they’re running the high line?
The low line struggles to make any headway when all the cars have all the energy from the draft up high. Plus, cars are getting a side draft off the outside SAFER barrier and getting a run through the corners and off of it.
Fans want changes. NASCAR said on Friday that no changes will be made though. But, after hearing from the owners on Friday morning, it’s clear that changes are actually needed to the Clash and the Duels instead of the ‘500.
“NASCAR hasn’t given us any indication they’re going to change anything,” said Roger Penske. “I think we have to put it in context. The 125s quite honestly, you have your 500 car, you have less of a field, so there’s less cars out there to maneuver with or draft.
“The racing will be certainly better on race day than maybe you saw last night.”
Tony Stewart agrees, even taking it a step further being brutally honest that teams aren’t risking the wreck by racing hard.
“No, the thing about the qualifying races, the majority of the field is locked in anyway,” said the co owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. “The worst thing you want to do is put yourself in a bad position to have to bring a backup car.
“From 20 years ago when I started, the backup cars weren’t near as good as the primary cars. Nowadays, the backup cars are almost identical to the primary cars coming out. Still, you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that car that you qualified for the race.
“Guys are a lot more careful. But we saw guys like Chase Elliott last night, Daniel Suarez, that were trying moves by themselves. That’s something you typically don’t see a lot of, where guys can move and pass by themselves. I thought that was encouraging to see you’re not having to rely necessarily on a whole pack of cars to help you move through the field.
“The big thing is, like Roger (Penske) said, the more cars you get out there, the more the pack racing gets a lot better and bigger.
“Qualifying races typically aren’t as exciting from that standpoint, but it’s because guys are really trying to take care of their equipment.
“The goal at the end of the day is to win the Daytona 500. I don’t think we put a lot of emphasis on winning the qualifying races. If you can win it, great. In no way do you want to jeopardize your primary car to do so.
Bingo. That’s what we’ve been saying all along.
When asked if he’s thinks the racing has been good this Speedweeks, Richard Petty, NASCAR’s winningest driver said, “No I don’t.”
Rick Hendrick echoed what Stewart said and his press conference was before Stewart’s.
“Trying to save your primary car,” said Hendrick who’s cars share the front row for Sunday’s race. “Remember, this is the last race of this car.”
So if everyone is trying to just ride around and save their primary car for the ‘500, what’s the point of racing to set the field? What incentive do they have to try?
One way to make the racing better is to just move the 150 mile qualifying races back to 125 miles. The whole reason they’re 150 miles anyways is because of making sure teams have to pit at least once. Now though, they’ll hit pit road early to get fuel to make it to the end, not even change tires, and ride around until the final few laps. That’s not racing folks.
Make it a pure sprint races again and get it over quicker.
Then, lets move it back to the day time again. A night race in February has cooler temperatures which means a track with more grip. Teams can go light on downforce and make up grip by a cool track surface.
Well, if it’s during the heat of the day, the track would be hotter which means more slipping and sliding. Also, if the races are shorter and teams don’t have to pit, then tire fall off is greater which means tougher handling race cars which means more passing.
See where this is going?
The Clash could stand to be cut in half. Why race 75 laps anymore? Sunday was embarrassing. Seeing cars pit coming to the checkered flag of the first segment was laughable.
The old Clashes used to be just a handful of laps for pole winners only. Make it that again.
Like Jay Frye told me, somethings that used to work in racing that ran their course and no longer worked a decade ago, may actually be able to work again.
NASCAR could use that advice.