Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR's vice president of Innovation and Racing Development, laid out some of the changes to "the package" for the
2014 Sprint Cup Season in a teleconference yesterday. These will primarily affect racing at the 1- and 1 ½- mile circuits, and all of them amount to tighter, closer, faster racing.
Following a championship riddledwith scandalthat ended a
bit predictably, anything that hypes up the
tension on the track is welcome. Testing isn't finalized, but here are the top four changes so far that should improve the on-track racing.
4. Nearly pointless RPM range adjustment of approximately 6 percent is a temporary setback.
I have a feeling this won't make one bit of a difference. It amounts to 50 hp out of around 900, but hey—at least they tried to slow the
new chassis package down. Realistically,
this will come down to the teams finding new ways to get the power back, more engine development, and greater failures on track when things go BOOM!
3. Drivers still can't really move their heads, but they now have a clear spoiler.
NASCAR has ditched the old full composite spoiler for a new design that uses a smaller 6-inch composite base with an adjustable Lexan spoiler. This means drivers may be more inclined to drive with their mirrors. They may also start making
questionable moves in the waning laps of a race. Just wait for accusations of blocking. It won't take long.
2. Increased downforce, increased speed, but no more grip.
To increase control, NASCAR has added downforce for 2014. This means higher cornering speeds. Unfortunately, those higher speeds and increased
pressures continue to ride on tire sizes that haven't changed in 30 years. During this time, the average race speed has increased by a staggering 35 mph.
Testing with Goodyear has shown little to no increase in tire degradation, but different track surfaces may play an increased role compared to 2013.
Hopefully, the major blowouts that plagued the former Daytona Prototypes during early-season testing
won't come into play during the Sprint Cup.
1. New suspension means the Sprint cars no longer handle like Mustangs with cut springs.
Think about driving a car at 200 mph with no front suspension. Now make it hit a bump in the track. You now know what it's like to drive a Gen-6 car. Teams were forced to use light front springs that allowed the car to pass post-race tech and solid bumpstops for on-track performance. This
meant snap reaction issues and a bounce to the front end that degraded speed handling. For the 2014 season, NASCAR has revised the method by which it
tests ride height post-race. Instead of the 4.25-inch standard currently in place, post-race testing will allow teams to come off the block and set their race height,
which could be half an inch if that's the setup they want. This will allow more individual tuning to the suspension and the use of heavier (read: functional)
springs that should result in closer racing at higher speeds with more driver control and less reliance on pack mentality racing.
While Daytona kicks off the 2014 season in February, this package won't be in official use on track until Phoenix on March 2. Stay tuned for more testing
updates as we move through the winter months.