Thursday, March 30, 2023

NASCAR Set to Reduce Downforce by 30% at Short Tracks and Road Courses in Cup Series

NASCAR downforce rule change 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen Car short tracks road courses
NASCAR is set to reduce downforce by 30% in the NASCAR Cup Series at road courses and short tracks in 2023. Photo Credit: Sean Gardner / Getty Images

If you thought the Next Gen car was hard to handle already, it’s about to get increasingly more difficult to drive at short tracks and road course events during the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

On Tuesday, NASCAR announced that they will be issuing a Rule Book bulletin on Wednesday that will lead to updates within the components of NASCAR Cup Series race cars at road course events and the majority of races at tracks 1.058 miles long or shorter.

According to NASCAR, the Next Gen car at these tracks will feature a two-inch rear spoiler (down from four-inches), and the car will no longer have three diffuser strakes or engine panel strakes. The end result will be what NASCAR states amounts to a 30% reduction in downforce.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Brian Murphy shared a drawing of the Next Gen rule components, and included which pieces of the components will be removed under the new rules:

Following a successful first season with the Next Gen car on track, NASCAR says the changes for the short track and road course package was a result of listening to feedback from the drivers that participated in a test session at Phoenix Raceway in January.

“We saw incredible racing throughout the 2022 season, especially at the intermediate racetracks. Our goal is to have the best racing possible everywhere we race, so during the offseason, we went to work on adjustments to strengthen the racing on short tracks and road courses,” John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officier said. “Adjustments will be made to the car that will create a significant reduction in downforce, and based on driver feedback and what we saw from the January test in Phoenix, we’re excited to see the results of these efforts.”

NASCAR states that the tracks that the new rules package will be active at include the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, Chicago Street Course, Circuit of the Americas, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Martinsville Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, Richmond Raceway, Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

The sanctioning body will add additional track time for teams to adjust to the new components, including a 50-minute practice being added to the schedule for the upcoming event at Phoenix Raceway.

The hope is that the changes create a more competitive balance at short tracks and road courses, where drivers simply weren’t able to make enough passes in 2022.

The NASCAR Cup Series championship race at Phoenix Raceway featured a total of just 11 lead changes, only eight races during the 36-race season had a lower total, and all of the races that had lower totals are tracks that are also included in this rules package update.

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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