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Too early to judge NASCAR aero package

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, 2019 in Hampton, Georgia.

We got our first look at at least part of NASCAR’s new aero package for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races on tracks 1.5 miles and larger, in a competitive environment Sunday in the Folds of Honor QukTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Here’s my early take: it’s too soon to tell.

It’s too soon to tell, because we haven’t even seen the package in its entirety, yet. After all, the cars didn’t have aero ducts Sunday, and that’s part of this new package that also includes larger front splitters and rear spoilers and tapered spacers. We won’t see those aero ducts until this weekend’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Shouldn’t we at least see the entire package once before passing judgement?

That being said, if the Atlanta race is to be judged on its own, or that variation of the partial package be judged, I call it satisfactory. But I reserve the right to change my mind, maybe multiple times, over the next few weeks. For Atlanta, though, the racing seemed neither better nor worse, generally speaking, and at least one of the stats supports my observation.

The number of lead changes was only increased by two over last year’s race, from 24 to 26. That’s not a big change over the course of a 500-mile race. One positive stat from Sunday’s race with the new package was the margin of finish. Keselowski’s 0.218-second win over Martin Truex Jr. was the closes finish at AMS in at least a few years. But close finishes aren’t all that unusual at Atlanta, are they?

On a positive note, there seemed to be more side-by-side racing. On the downside, though, that side-by-side racing, typically, wasn’t up front. Maybe our expectations are too high. I don’t know. I will say that I am happy that we didn’t see some kind of wreck-fest. That was a prediction of those who expected a product more in line with restrictor-plate racing at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway because of the tapered spacer’s similarities to a restrictor plate.

Still, let’s hold off on giving NASCAR a hard grade on its new package. At least wait until we’ve seen the whole package. And let’s see it several tracks. I realize we like to refer to mile-and-a-halves “cookie-cutter,” tracks, but let’s get real. While they may look the same, or at least very similar, in those nifty overhead shots from the Goodyear Blimp, they don’t all race the same, now, do they?

Worth noting, Team Penske owner Roger Penske gave this aero package a “B” after Atlanta. I’m not sure whether or not his opinion was influenced by one of his cars (the No. 2 of Brad Keselowski) winning the race, so take his grade however you want.

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Posted by on February 27, 2019. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,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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