The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rules package was unveiled on Tuesday and the long rumored element was added. There were two packages that will be used for next season.
For 17 races, a smaller tapered spacer will reduce engine horsepower to a target goal of 550. The front aero ducts will be used on most of the tracks that are 1-mile in distance or greater.
There will be five other races that will be run with smaller taper spacer but no aero ducts. Those races will be in Atlanta, Pocono (both races), Darlington and Homestead.
To add to that, the July race at Daytona and both races in Talladega will be run with taper spacers and not restrictor plates. This is the first time that these three races won’t be using restrictor plates since 1987.
The Daytona 500 is the only race that will remain the same in terms of the aero package.
Aero Elements • Spoiler: 8” x 61” • Splitter: 2” overhang, 10.5” wings at ends of splitter (near tires) • Radiator pan: 37” in front tapered to 31” with vertical fences • Aero ducts: Used at majority of oval tracks larger than 1 mile
Engine Elements • 750 HP: 1.17” tapered spacer (Used at short tracks and road courses) • 550 HP: 0.922” tapered spacer (Used at oval tracks larger than 1 mile)
Misc. • Enhanced vehicle chassis mandatory at all tracks (previously announced) • Adding 3 long block engine seals in points races. These are in addition to the 13 short block seals introduced this season.
25% reduction in testing (3 organizational tests, down from 4; 3 teams at each Goodyear test, down from 4).
Some are wondering what this all means. It’s NASCAR acknowledging that they need to improve the racing product. The only problem is, a majority of the races this season has been vastly improved already.
While I’m skeptical on what this will do in terms of competition, I’ll wait to reserve my judgement until I get a little more of a sample size.
The All-Star race this past year was incredible. It way overshadowed the ho-hum Coca Cola 600 which produced only nine lead changes. The 2016 Coke 600 also only had nine lead changes.
The rules package is needed for that race.
The rules change is needed for the Brickyard 400. While we were treated to a fantastic finish in this past year’s race, strategy and late race cautions helped aid in that. For a majority of the race, it’s follow the leader. The XFINITY Series ran a similar package to the one that is being put in place next year just last month at Indy and it once again outshined the Brickyard.
So, I agree with the assessment that it couldn’t hurt on those tracks.
But, what about Chicagoland and Vegas? While the end of the Vegas race was a crash fest, a majority of that day was edge of your seat racing.
The most lead changes for a race this year?
Daytona 2 – 25
Talladega 1 – 25
Daytona 1 – 24
Atlanta – 24
Chicagoland – 24
Las Vegas 2 – 23
See my point now.
Why fix a package like they just did when it’s not fully broken? We’re going to see less pure racing and more manufactured racing. That late race battle in Chicagoland where Larson drove through the field to catch Busch, well that doesn’t happen with this new package.
While I’m not for it or against it, this is something that will take some getting used to and one that could put more * in the record books. While this package is in place, the drivers’ skill isn’t being utilized as much anymore.
But, as NASCAR did put it too, the good teams will still find a way to remain good. This isn’t going to make results like a plate race every week. That’s also not what this is designed to do.
Kevin Harvick has seven wins this season and he won the All-Star race. So, it’s not like we’re going to see all fluke winners.
It’s just that the skill level isn’t as much like it is now. Granted, the skill level is still slightly out the window in this package too. Drivers with underfunded equipment are far more talented than their cars. See Ryan Preece and Tyler Reddick as examples.
But, this is another change getting further and further away from NASCAR’s roots. Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.
My final thought to this is that it doesn’t have to be permanent. A new car is coming out soon. Just not in the next two years. NASCAR and their manufacturers can in the meantime make a new car that can eventually pass and hopefully not be so aero dependent where they’re not restricted in power in doing so.