NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell says the front office will look at improving racing on short tracks and road courses in 2020.
NASCAR has acknowledged the work that needs to be done next year on short tracks and road courses.
While the sanctioning body remains pleased by the performance of the polarizing low-horsepower, high-downforce competition formula on intermediate tracks, it has come at the expense of flat short tracks and road courses.
These tracks still feature 750 hp, instead of the 550 on the largest tracks, but it’s not enough power to overcome the turbulence generated by the 8-inch-by-61-inch rear spoiler.
What have traditionally been some of NASCAR’s most action-packed tracks are now some of the dullest, notable because the 2020 Cup Series playoffs will include races at Richmond, Bristol, Martinsville and Phoenix—the last two to close out the season.
This past Sunday’s race at Phoenix featured just three green flag passes for the lead. The first two came off the wild four-wide restarts through the dogleg and the last one came when leader Joey Logano’s car completely failed him.
It has been a familiar theme all season at these tracks.
Several drivers have called for NASCAR to implement a shorter rear spoiler for these tracks next season, even though the 2020 rules have already been released, almost identical to the status quo. That’s actually what NASCAR wanted to do this season, but that move was vetoed by the Race Team Alliance, which did not want to R&D two different race packages.
Denny Hamlin described it best, saying NASCAR stock cars do not need drafting spoilers for the racetracks on which they aren’t drafting.
NASCAR’s vice president and chief racing development officer, Steve O’Donnell, agrees that something needs to be done but suggested there is more Goodyear can do with the racing tire.
“What I would say is that every race is unique,” O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We heard some of the same things after the first Bristol and then put on a phenomenal race (in the fall). We’re working with our partners at Goodyear for the short tracks.
“We’re evaluating what we’ve got at the end of the season. On the intermediate side, it’s provided exactly what we’ve wanted. Still some work to do from us on short tracks and road courses and we’ll evaluate that in the offseason.”
In an August interview with Autoweek, Goodyear’s racing director, Greg Stucker, suggested there isn’t much more to get out of the tires. With so much downforce, tires are at risk of failure if they get any less durable.
“We made some gains, but not what we expected to,” Stucker said of a summer test for its Martinsville tire. “We might have found some things we can take back there next year. There is only so much that can be done with the tires and more that can be done with the race cars.”
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