Welcome back NASCAR fans!
Today we got our racing back and boy, was it interesting. Some of the new things you saw, no mandatory ride heights, no NASCAR issue springs. This is something I’ve wanted to see for awhile. By adding a half inch to the spoiler to keep the speeds under 200mph, this is a big win. This means teams have control over their car. They can do some research and development. You can squat the rear end down, increases speeds but makes the driver actually drive the car. This little change puts control back in a team’s hands and allows them to set things up a little different than others. This allow allows for better drafting by reducing turbulent air that comes from under the car ahead. Now you’ll see cars “suck up” better in a draft and will reduce the dreaded “aero-push.” The slingshot, is back.
The Camaro ZL1 made its stock car debut and looked strong. With a body reminiscent of the car on the street, not only does this car look good, it drives good. The Camaro looks to have more front downforce, which will allow better turning, but it also appears to have improved side force which will increase stability in the turns.
Something else you may have heard about is standard issue splitters. Why is this important? Simple, it’s one of the few things teams would manipulate for a higher downforce advantage. Angles, edges, curves, and even bending corners up all played a factor. By standardizing this, it will reduce teams from spending thousands of dollars on this one piece. I am all for getting rid of the splitter, to me this is the next best thing.
There are more subtle changes, but we will get into those later, today, these three things made for a better race.
What did we see today? A race where the drivers really mattered. The cars could move and pick up the draft easily. Higher closing rates that allowed drivers to get a real run. Plus a saw cars that appeared more stable.
Austin Dillon started on the pole, he was shuffled back but was able to change lanes and move at will. Pitting just as the caution flag came out for the competition caution, the 3 team executed a solid stop. Back on track Austin held position and moved forward. In just a few laps he was able to move up before getting shuffled back again.
The field strung out into a single file on top and when someone would try to pull down they would get hung out. This is a product of the drivers, not the cars or rules. The drivers were afraid to lose a position, all day long. For a non-points event, I’ve never seen drivers so worried about a “good finish.”
It was Austin that wanted to go, lap after lap. Austin asked Andy Houston to find someone to go with him. In the final lap when Austin pulled out, he made up ground, drivers eventually went with him. He was closing on the leaders when the wreck happened which would end the race. After the race, Dillon told Houston & crew chief, Justin Alexander, “I want to be the one leading the charge at the end, I think we could have made it.” In deed they could have made it. Had they gone a lap earlier, I believe the 3 car would’ve challenged for the lead.
Thursday I think you can expect to see more from the 3 team, if they can find someone in their Duel, I believe the 3 car will return to Thursday’s victory lane. The hardest part will be finding other drivers who want to win and are willing to risk a few positions to move forward, rather than playing it safe for the “good finish.”
A “good finish” will never be great. If these drivers want to win, if they want to be great, they will have to “Get Like 3” as Mrs. Whitney Dillon puts it. Austin wants to be great and it’s his time to shine. Now, who else wants to be great?