Will new IMS aero package give Ryan Reed an advantage?

Ryan Reed has won his share of big races.

Will new IMS aero package give Ryan Reed an advantage?
Ryan Reed, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Ryan Reed, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Ryan Reed, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Ryan Reed, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Ryan Reed, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Ryan Reed, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

His first two NASCAR Xfinity Series victories have come in the season opening Daytona 300. 

Given Reed’s success with restrictor-plate racing — and NASCAR testing a new aero package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend -- perhaps he can add a third victory to his resume on Saturday. 

“It was definitely a huge, drastic difference,” Reed said of the new setup. “It was like five-seconds difference in speed, so I think that gap will shrink a little bit as everyone puts a little more R&D into the package, but it was very different. I think it’s gonna be pack-style racing. 

“I don’t think it will be quite like Daytona and Talladega just with this place being as flat as it is, but I think, and it’s kind of a guessing game because there were only three of us, you don’t really know what’s gonna happen until you get out there with 38 or 39 other guys.”  

What to expect

Reed was one of the three drivers who participated in the test here last fall. Blake Koch and Brandon Jones accompanied Reed at the test. Although the teams had two practices on Friday, it will be difficult to grade NASCAR’s latest experiment until all 38 cars take to the track. 

“If I had to guess right now, I kind of think it would be similar to what you see during the Indy race here with Indy cars. You might see four or five guys breakaway, but the leader is not going to be able to get away. You’re punching too big of a hole in the air and then with the time difference and as much slower as it is, the balance is good enough to where you can suck up pretty easy. 

“It’s gonna be exciting. I think you’re gonna see a mixed bag of reviews, but I think the fans are gonna enjoy it.”

NASCAR brought back the spoiler (six inches, with ear flaps on both ends) and splitter from last year’s package. The sanctioning body introduced new aero ducts (15 inches long and 30 inches apart) to the front bumper which are designed to move air away from the front wheel wells and create a larger wake for approaching vehicles. Teams will also use 7/8-inch restrictor plates — which knocked practice speeds down by 15 miles per hour. 

“When you were in the draft if you got all the way in their dirty air, if you didn’t have a fender poked out, you really had to do a good job of making sure you got some air on the car,” Reed said. “But, for the most part, you were wide-open no matter what situation you were in, but that was three cars. When you’re in a pack with 20 or 30 other guys, then I think the balance is gonna be a premium.”

Reed's 2017 season

With his Daytona win in February, Reed is locked into the Xfinity Series Playoffs. He’s one of three regulars on the tour competing for 12 spots with nine races to determine the field. Reed hopes to build more consistency into the team before the post-season begins. 

“I’d say we’ve kind of had ups-and-downs,” Reed said. “Obviously a great moment winning at Daytona. We’ve had top-5 runs and top-10 runs, and then we’ve had some not-so-good runs.  We’ve had some bad luck, some wrecks and then some races where we definitely needed to continue to find speed, but I think, overall, you’ve seen Roush Fenway as an organization get a lot better. 

“We’ve certainly reaped those rewards on Saturdays, but we need to get in a little more better rhythm and find some consistency. The top-10 weeks need to be two, three, four weeks in a row. The road courses are a great summer stretch for us. We have really good road course cars. We had some great runs last year, a top-5 at Road America, a top-10 at Watkins Glen, so we need to continue that at the road courses. And then I think our short-track program is where we have the most work to do, so if we can find a little more everywhere, and then a lot on the short tracks, I think we’re gonna be in contention come the Playoffs.”

The driver of the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang would like to add a trophy from the Brickyard to his case, especially since his sponsor has the naming rights for the NXS race at its home track. 

Lilly’s hospitality this week included go-kart racing for Reed and a group of fans on ThursdayFriday night’s festivities will include the Lilly Block Party prior to Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at the Brickyard. 

“Lilly puts a lot of effort into the entire NASCAR program and obviously to see them in the fourth year of our partnership is pretty amazing,” Reed said on Friday. “To see their continued addition to our program with different NASCAR programs and our sponsorship of this race, and then the whole week-long activation here is really cool.”

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