For those who pay attention to the Sheet Metal Round-a-bout series. NASCAR once again is trying to improve the racing at Indianapolis, and, like normal, they are trying to do it in a complicated and stupid way.
Stock car racing at Indy has had a pretty rough go in recent years. The racing has been lackluster, and fans have not been coming back. Most of these issues comes from the laws of physics and NASCAR thinks they can change
The Bernoulli effect of fluid dynamics states that the same volume of liquid flowing though a tube, will flow faster if the volume of the tube is decreased. NASCAR appears to think that bunching up the cars to attempt superspeedway style racing at Indy will magically make the racing faster and more exciting in the corners.
Per the NASCAR.com article, these are the changes (Note: These changes are to the Xfinity Series cars)
- taller rear spoiler and splitter package
- aero ducts on the lower front bumper area
- 7/8th-inch restrictor plate currently used for superspeedway events
The static ride height of the cars will remain at 4 inches, which is unchanged from the current 2017 rules package.
Testing results show almost what we expected, cars ran closer together, but passing was still difficult. To be fair, I do like some of these ideas. Let’s talk about the Pros
- Minimum Ride Height - Yes! Minimum ride heights keep the car from being glued to the track and take away downforce. Less downforce = good. Part of being successful at Indy is about corner exit speed, not entirely corner grip. The driver can handle that, no real need for aero enhancements.
- Aero Ducts - If the mission is to give advantage to a trailing car and create more slingshot passes. The principle is simple, when you are out front the air passes through these extra holes in the car. This can either give some aero grip or better yet, reduce downforce (depending on how the holes are designed and where the holes are placed.) When the car is trailing another, air bypassed these hole enhancing the draft, thus greater speed. NASCAR could have probably only done this and it would have been enough.
and now the cons
- Restrictor plates - They won’t work here. At Daytona and Talladega, the cars take nearly 2 laps to get up to speed, and they do not need to brake. At Indy you need to brake in a stock car, it simply weighs too much. Centrifugal force will smash you into the wall, no amount of aero will change that. The engines will struggle around the track and sound like they are swimming in Dog-n-Suds Root Beer. Also, in case you haven’t noticed, 2-wide in the corners doesn’t work well here.
- Spoiler Upgrades - Did you not see the Cup race last year and the year before. Nothing changed, the cars didn’t draft and didn’t pass.
Overall it is a typical NASCAR rule change, 2 parts silly stuff, 0.25 parts good things, and 1.75 parts that mean nothing. In the end, I am willing to try these changes. I hope NASCAR proves me wrong.
NASCAR is too busy trying to change the car to their perception of how racing at Indy should be. That will never work. You are better off spending those resources to update IRP (or whatever it is called now). Indy is suppose to present a challenge to teams. You are taking the car away from it’s native environment of cookie cutter tracks, it is up to them to figure out how to win.