Teams Starting to Find Ways to Gain Back Lost Downforce

by May 6, 2016

KANSAS CITY — The Sprint Cup Series’s new low-downforce package isn’t a package that should be viewed as a ‘be all, end all.’

NASCAR’s premier division’s newest aerodynamics package has drawn rave reviews due to the quality of racing it’s put on, but the ingenuity of the series’s team’s engineers could potentially leave it in a vulnerable position.

Speaking during Charlotte Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Media Week in January, Tony Stewart fully recognized that teams have the ability to gain downforce back through engineering gains.

Giving his opinion on the matter, ‘Smoke’ believes that teams could tinker with the package enough to even have it resemble the aerodynamic package from one year ago.

“They haven’t taken enough off for me yet,” Stewart stated in January. “They’ve just scratched the surface on taking downforce off and the problem is the amount they’ve taken off most likely the teams will find a way to get it back to exactly where it was last year.”

As various drivers said on Friday at Kansas Speedway, they do feel that the garage’s engineers have found ways to add the downforce back, however, the racing still hasn’t begun to resemble the racing from last season.

As Carl Edwards puts it, it’s only in each team’s nature to find as much downforce as they can to provide an advantage out on the track.

“We are always going to push to get every bit we can as race teams,” Edwards said. “NASCAR is probably going to have to stay ahead of us in that respect. No matter what rules package we have, we’re going to keep innovating all the time. That is a factor.”

“You are always going to go out there and do everything that you can to get the most downforce, the most grip out of the race car,” A.J. Allmendinger added in an earlier press conference. “All of our teams are trying to do that, but it’s definitely a bit different than the past couple of years for sure.”

If it ever gets to the point where the racing on track resembles more of that from 2015, Edwards said that a move by NASCAR to cut even more downforce from the cars would be completely fine by him.

“Perfect,” Edwards said to the proposal of cutting downforce further mid-season. “As far as I’m concerned, you can completely cut the spoilers off the cars and get rid of the splitters. The less we have the better.”

“I can not thank NASCAR enough for making these changes. We went through all of those tests last year and tried everything and NASCAR came back with the lower downforce package and I think it’s really paid off. It’s a lot of fun to drive.

“Right now, there’s so many variables that come into play and yes, we’re running well and our JGR Toyotas are fast and everything, but even without that, the racing is just more fun. I’m sure NASCAR understands that and I’m sure they’ll keep working to keep it that way.”

But, from two practice sessions held thus far, Edwards doesn’t anticipate tomorrow night’s Go Bowling 400 to resemble last year’s at all. From what he noticed on the track, he fully expects cars to slide around all over the track and spread out across the entire racing surface.

“The cars are really fast,” Edwards noted. “Even with this low-downforce package, we’re making a ton of speed. What bodes well for the race is that the line is moving and the Goodyear tires are leaving a bunch of rubber on the track.

“I think the track is going to change a lot through the race. I was already running the second groove in practice and it’s really early to be doing that. I think it’s going to be good.”

Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images