Parks Pit Report: Firekeepers Casino 400

Joey Logano clinched his spot in the Chase as NASCAR tested out yet another aerodynamic package.

Joey Logano clinched his spot in the Chase as NASCAR tested out yet another aerodynamic package.

If there is anything that NASCAR fans are the most vocal about, and most critical, is the product that is placed on track needs to be good.  One way that is done to ensure that is more about the work done at the race shop, as in the aerodynamic package.

A year ago, fans were not exactly pleased with the product because it seemed that once a driver got a breakaway, they were not being caught.

It got to the point where drivers were even being critical, but rather than having NASCAR come down on those criticizing the racing, they met with teams to decide what could be done.

In four different races, at four different tracks, two different aerodynamic packages would be run, just to see what could work best.  At Indianapolis and Michigan, the site of this weekend’s action, a “high drag” design was instituted.  This package meant a large splitter edge, over one-inch exposed, and a spoiler that was increased in height to over seven inches, plus included a wicker at the top.

The result of both races…drivers didn’t want to speak about it, which in turn spoke volumes.  It didn’t work well.

The other two races, at Kentucky and Darlington, the leading edge of the splitter was reduced to a half inch, and the spoiler was only three inches tall, compared to the 4.5-inches that was used normally.  That result was vastly different, because drivers felt it put more of the ability of the driver into the race, rather than just relying on setups to make it work.  It was so well received, NASCAR made some slight tweaks and decided to run a similar design this year, and things have worked out immensely well.

However, there’s always a desire to put a better product on track, and NASCAR decided to try that again at Michigan.  The splitter had the same leading edge out front, however underneath the sizing was reduced, which in turn reduced front downforce.  Out back, the spoiler was reduced both in length, nearly four inches on each side, and height was reduced from 3.5 inches  to just 2.5 inches.  That small change meant another reduction in downforce.

The result, higher speeds entering the corner, but the drivers had to slow down a lot more to actually handle the corners.

But, what was seen on track was drivers trying to manhandle a car that was often loose on the throttle, and put a lot more wheel into making the car stick to the asphalt.  However, despite that, this package was something the drivers wanted, and what they got was something they enjoyed.  At both races the original low-downforce test was used at, every driver was praising the racing that was seen, saying it was fun again and hoped it would stay.  NASCAR listened, and with some changes made it the package used at all tracks this season, excluding Talladega and Daytona.

The newest test of even less downforce seemed to be enjoyed by everyone, even if it was a challenge to drive.  This same package will be run again at Kentucky in July.  It worked at a wide and fast speedway, now it is time to see if this will work at the “bread and butter” tracks of NASCAR, the 1.5-mile speedways that make up the bulk of the schedule.

RESULTS:  1-Logano  2-Elliott  3-Larson  4-Keselowski  5-Harvick  6-Edwards  7-Stewart  8-Dillon  9-McMurray  10-Kurt Busch

NOTABLE FINISHES:  12-Truex Jr.  16-Johnson  33-Hamlin  39-Earnhardt Jr.  40-Kyle Busch

CAUTIONS:  9 for 46 laps.  Lap 47-50 (#78, 15 Accident-T3); 55-60 (Fluid On The Track); 63-68 (#88, 47, 34 Accident-T2); 103-106 (#32 Accident-T2); 109-116 (#32 Accident-T3); 149-153 (Debris-BS); 156-160 (#44, 10, 13 Accident-BS); 164-167 (#6, 48, 21 Accident-T2); 190-193 (#11 Accident-FS).

LEAD CHANGES:  14 among 8 drivers.  J. Logano POLE; M. Truex Jr. 1-10; J. Logano 11-40; B. Keselowski 41-47; J. Logano 48-93; K. Larson 94; R. Newman 95; B. Keselowski 96-98; J. Johnson 99-102; P. Menard 103; J. Logano 104-116; C. Elliott # 117-148; J. Logano 149; C. Elliott # 150-152; J. Logano 153-200.

TIME OF RACE:  2 Hrs, 58 Mins, 47 Secs.


MARGIN OF VICTORY:  0.889 Seconds

CHASE GRID:  1. Kyle Busch-417 (points), 3 (wins); 2. Keselowski-480, 2; 3. Edwards-472, 2; 4. Johnson-441, 2; 5. Harvick-526, 1; 6. Kurt Busch-496, 1; 7. Logano-455, 1; 8. Truex Jr.-433, 1; 9. Kenseth-409, 1; 10. Hamlin-380, 1; 11. Elliott, -73 (From 1st-Harvick); 12. Earnhardt Jr, -143; 13. Dillon, -145; 14. McMurray, -152; 15. Newman, -157; 16. Blaney, -162.

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