They’ll trot out a new rules package for Saturday night’s annual Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and who knows, if all goes well folks might see the platform at some points-paying races in 2019.
Why else go to all that trouble? Of course, change is nothing new when it comes to the annual non-points race, now in its 34th year.
Last year it was tire choices – prime and option. The year before it was yet another format swap, something that’s been pretty much a constant for this event as officials have sought ways to spice up the on-track product.
There have been inversions and eliminations, blowouts and shootouts.
Which brings us to this year’s package, one that consists of OEM specific aerodynamic ducts on the front fascia, a 2014 style splitter (it has more of a “lip”) used in conjunction with the current radiator pan, a six-inch high splitter with eight-inch “ears” on each end and a restrictor plate to choke horsepower.
It’s been a proven bundle, at least in the lower-tier XFINITY Series where it was used last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It worked well enough that they’re bringing it back in that series for stops at Pocono, Michigan and again at Indy this year.
The pole speed fell about 15 mph while lead changes nearly doubled in the XFINITY Series race at Indy last year.
Stage breaks and a shorter track, more banking … who knows how the package will react on Charlotte’s 1.5-mile layout?
There has been no on-track testing with Cup cars and because the front-end ductwork differs for all three automakers, each group’s ducts (supplied by NASCAR) differ slightly.
The “choke down point” inside each is the same, however, according to officials.
But will the package resurface in ’19?
Not without at least one trip to the wind tunnel to gather more data and validate NASCAR’s numbers. But if it works, I wouldn’t bet against a return for a select number of tracks next season.
This isn’t the first time NASCAR has trotted out a change to test the waters using the All-Star Race as a “guinea pig.”
Charlotte Motor Speedway has turned into a 1.5-mile test tube.
No points on the line, but not exactly a nothing-to-lose weekend.