The Package, F1 Fallout, and Newer Events – The Athletic


Five thoughts after an eventful month of December in the racing world …

1. The package, edition 2022

In a breathtaking reversal, NASCAR abandoned its low horsepower / high downforce philosophy in December after spending the past few years cementing the concept as the definition of NASCAR racing on larger tracks.

It wasn’t until the season finale in November that I asked NASCAR President Steve Phelps if he’d like to double the concept behind the 550-horsepower rule package for his upcoming next-gen car – which was developed to keep the race close on larger tracks despite the large number of fans and keep taut (and an even higher percentage of motorists) who express their displeasure with it.

Phelps said, “Do you think the race is good or not? Our fan advice data suggests the answer is yes. Is there a vocal minority who say they don’t like a 550-horsepower package (and) they want to see 750-plus (horsepower)? Absolutely. I would go beyond the eye test – I would go to the dates. The data suggests we have better races right now than ever before. “

But as it turned out, the tests of the rule package with the next-gen car on the track didn’t support that idea. The speeds around Charlotte Motor Speedway during the initial test were slower than the subordinate ARCA production cars – totally unsuitable for the world’s best stock car racing series. Meanwhile, both the drivers and the data made it clear that the race would potentially be terrible in such conditions – single races, minor overtaking maneuvers, and boring shows in the weeks and months after the Next Gen started.

Thankfully, NASCAR didn’t enforce the problem by trying persistently to push through lower horsepower. We can all debate whether it should have existed at all, but the more important development is NASCAR’s willingness to adapt.


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