Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., was the second and final test of the season for NASCAR’s high-drag package. It was first tested in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, while a low drag package was tested in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., and will undergo another test next month in the form of the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
The high-drag package was pretty much a drag, wasn’t it? It seemed pretty lackluster at Indianapolis, but I witheld my opinion then, as did a lot of other folks, mainly because of the uniqueness at the Brickyard and the tendancy for that race to not be filled with edge-of-your-seat excitement, anyway.
Michigan was the real test for that package, and if anything, the racing at Michigan was worse than that at Indy. Of course, not all races can be gems, all jam-packed full of excitement, but this was a test for a new aero package, and it fell pretty flag, so to speak. Here’s why.
Wasn’t the goal of these new aero packages to increase passing up front? Where was the passing up front at Michigan? There were a few passes for the lead on restart. Other lead changes, meanwhile, came during cycles of green-flag pit stops, on pit road and through yellow-flag pit strategies when leaders would pit while others stayed out. Am I missing a mid-green-flag-run pass somewhere? If so, I’m thinking I’m not missing many.
If the goal was to increase passing up front, and I think it was, mission definitely not accomplished.
On the other hand, that low drag package at Kentucky looked pretty good. Maybe it’s just me, but from feedback I heard on social media and call-in shows on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, I don’t think it was just me, but I think the 2015 Quaker State 400 was the best Cup race at Kentucky in quite some time.
Okay, so I’m guessing Matt Kenseth enjoyed that race at Michigan on Sunday, and why wouldn’t he? He led nearly three-quarters of the race en route to his third win of the season and his second victory in the last three races. For everybody else, it wasn’t all that spectacular.
Even prior to the MIS snoozer from Sunday, drivers seemed to be more in favor of the low-drag package for Kentucky and Darlington. Originally, I took that with a grain of salt. After all, the low-drag package was, for the most part, a result of the drivers’ ideas, while the high-drag package was NASCAR’s idea. Of course, drivers are going to favor their own ideas. But after seeing one of the low-drag races and both of the high-drag experiments, I’m thinking the drivers were on to something. I guess it’s to be expected, though. After all, these are the guys who drive these cars every week.
NASCAR’s already announced that the regular 2015 package will be used throughout the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, but there is next year. If one of the two experimental packages is implemented next year, I sure hope it’s the low-drag one. Maybe the high-drag package could work with a few tweaks, maybe not. One thing’s for sure, it needs work.
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