NASCAR looking towards the future with aero package, safety updates
NASCAR is looking to get ahead of the game by finalizing the 2017 Sprint Cup car package and with an eye on safety for the future.
NASCAR Senior Vice President, Innovation and Racing Development Gene Stefanyshyn discussed plans for race teams to receive the rules for 2017 over the next two months.
After conversations with the teams and manufacturers, the sanctioning body believed it was in the best interest of the sport to use the upcoming race at Michigan next month as a confirmation test of sorts to ascertain whether the 2017 package needs any further tweaks prior to the roll out. Stefanyshyn said the Michigan II package will be identical to the first MIS car and use the same tire package as well.
“We thought it was best to run the (same) package as Michigan I because the teams have some knowledge on that,” Stefanyshyn said. “The teams still feel there’s some fine-tuning they can do on that package. Obviously, this package relies more on mechanical grip than aerodynamic grip and a lot of the teams think there’s still a lot of things they can do.
“Michigan II is good, that we’re not in the Chase window. The other thing we see at Michigan, too, is the ability to do some fine-tuning if need be.”
Establishing the 2017 package early also will help NASCAR coordinate with Goodyear on a tire that compliments the car. With less downforce on the cars and teams relying more on mechanical grip, tires are more important than ever.
Making the cars safer
NASCAR also introduced structural updates in an effort to strengthen the chassis. The advancements will roll out at Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway next year and for all tracks in 2018.
“We work on the safety of the vehicle on an ongoing basis,” Stefanyshyn said. “We’ve been doing an extensive body of work over the last year and a half with analysis, crash testing and such. We’v come to the point that we believe the package is mature and we want to introduce it. We also worked with a safety committee that’s been formed with a good cross-section of several teams which have actually worked on chassis and built chassis so we can make a package that’s easy to implement.
“This is just another round of enhancements in the overall safety of the vehicle. We’ll be introducing that at the super speedways — optional for ’16, mandatory for ’17 on superspeedways.”
Stefanyshyn added that NASCAR continues to work on correcting the lugnut dilemma. Crew chief Rodney Childers was the latest coach to fall on his sword when the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing car failed to have all five lugnuts secure following last Sunday’s race at Indy.
“That’s something our team has run some beta testing on,” Stefanyshyn said. “We’ve run it at some tracks. We’ve been looking at it in daylight and night environments. That is an initiative we’re working on.”
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