The NASCAR Sprint Cup rules package through the first 17 races of the 2015 season has left fans and drivers, alike, disgruntled, to say the least. NASCAR, meanwhile, searched for answers, even going so far as to request the formation of a drivers’ council with a goal of coming up with suggestions to make the racing better.
Answers came in the form of a new, track-specific aero package rolled out for Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The Kentucky-specific package included a shorter spoiler height of 3.5 inches (down from six inches), a splitter extension panel — or radiator pan — of 25 inches (down from 38 inches) and a decrease of 1.75 inches in splitter overhang.
That package debuted to rave reviews, both from fans expressing their opinions via social media and competitors. This package did, after all, provide passing up front, and that was the primary goal at the center of the change. While early-season numbers showed an increase in the number of “quality” passes, those passes were coming back in the field, not up front.
Kyle Busch, the winner at Kentucky Saturday night, passed Logano for the lead and eventual win in the final 10 laps. Here’s what Busch had to say of the new package after the race:
“All the drivers were kind of striving for this. I felt like ti was a positive thing when I was chasing Joey down. Right when I got to him, he moved up and tried to block my lane. With the old package, you get stalled out and get stuck behind the guy. I just moved down and went a little bit lower and got my Camry to stock and was able to power through and get back by him. We swapped the lead back and forth a couple of times. I thought it was pretty good racing.”
Yeah, yeah, Busch was the race winner, so of course he’s going to be happy with the package, right? Not so fast. Remember, this is the guy who won the first race with the Car of Tomorrow. After that race at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway, Busch climbed from his car in victory lane and the first words out of his mouth were something to the effect of, “This car sucks.”
That just goes to show that we’re talking about a guy here who has no problem giving his opinion, even if it’s negative, in a moment of victory. So I’m going to take from his victory lane interview Saturday night that he really likes this new aero package.
Oh, and said package did provide a three-way battle for the lead between the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards. Sure that battle was on a restart, but it did go on for multiple laps, it seemed.
Remember, NASCAR returns to its old lackluster package for the upcoming race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and will put that aero package on track for most of the remaining races on the schedule. But new packages will be unveiled at upcoming races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Michigan International Speedway and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, so NASCAR’s working on it.
With change in the air, while there may still be a few lackluster races throughout the remainder of 2015, I’m determined to believe if we just bide our time, things are looking up for 2016.
What did you think of the Kentucky package? Voice your opinion in this online poll.