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NASCAR Cup: aero package a work in progress

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil Oil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 3, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

By AMANDA VINCENT

Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was the third race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and the second featuring some variation of NASCAR’s new aerodynamic rules package aimed at improving the on-track product. But the Las Vegas race was the first featuring all the components of the package for mile-and-a-half tracks — larger splitter and spoiler, tapered spacer and aero ducts.

The race at Atlanta Motor Speedway the previous Sunday featured the larger splitter and spoiler and tapered spacer but not aero ducts.

After the LVMS race, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell gave his take on the new package, saying it produced better racing but there was still room for improvement.

“What we said from the beginning is we wanted to see the best cars still win,” O’Donnell said. “We wanted the ability to look in the corners and see second and third place in the same shot as the leader, and for them to have the ability to pass each other. We saw that. You certainly saw the last stage, 100-lap green-flag run with no cautions, top four within 2.5 seconds. So. directionally, I think better, for sure, but we’re not satisfied. I’m a race fan first, and liked what I saw, but I think there’s also more to come, hopefully.”

The Pennzoil 400 ran incident-free with the only cautions coming after laps 80 and 160 to divide the 267-lap distance into its three stages. O’Donnell said that the package produced different racing in the opening 80-lap stage than in the second 80-lap and final 107-lap stages.

“We saw almost two different races within a race, because stage one was different from stages two and three,” O’Donnell said.

Kevin Harvick led the first 43 laps before pitting during the first cycle of green-flag stops. That was the longest span of consecutive laps led by a single driver. The next largest distance of consecutive laps led by one driver was Logano’s lead of the final 24 laps.

In all, the race at Las Vegas produced 19 lead changes among nine different drivers, with Harvick leading a race-high 88 laps, followed by Logano with 86 laps-led. With the race running relatively caution-free, several of the lead changes were produced by varying strategies during green-flag pit stops. Still, NASCAR considers Sunday’s race a move in the right direction.

“We’ve said from the beginning that this is going to be a season that we’re going to analyze,” O’Donnell said. “We’re not going to every race say, was that a good race, was that not. I know fans do that, but for us, directionally, are you improving upon where we wanted to be, and if you look at last year versus this year, I would say we are. Was it tremendous improvement? Probably not. But again, as a fan, you want to see lead changes. We saw that today, and I think if you would have looked in the past with no cautions, we would have seen someone check out all race long, and we wouldn’t have seen a lead change.”

The Cup Series next races at the one-mile ISM Raceway near Phoenix on March 10.

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Posted by on March 7, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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