NASCAR Cup Series lowers downforce for road, shorter ovals

by Justin Nguyen

Nine tracks on the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule will see a modified package. On Tuesday, NASCAR announced downforce will be reduced for events at the three road courses (Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, Sonoma Raceway, Watkins Glen International), three short tracks (Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Richmond Raceway), and three mile-long ovals (Dover International Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway).

“Our first and foremost core goal is to deliver great racing, and I think that we constantly evaluate the things that we do on the race track, however and wherever we need to, to improve that situation for them,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development John Probst stated. “And as part of our normal ongoing critique of ourselves and how we’re doing, we just felt like this was a good opportunity for us to improve the on-track product at the short tracks and road courses.”

The new downforce is similar to those from the 2017 and 2018 Cup seasons; it was increased in 2019 as part of sweeping aerodynamic package changes. The lower downforce makes it harder to handle the car as stability is loosened.

Specifically, the changes consists of decreasing the rear spoiler height from eight inches to 2.75, while the front splitter’s overhang is reduced from two inches to a quarter of an inch with two-inch wings rather than the current 10.5. The radiator pan will also lose its vertical fencing to decreaes downforce at the front end, though the general size and shape of the pan will stay in place.

Five of the six ovals feature two dates each (New Hampshire the lone exception), meaning fourteen of the thirty-six races on the Cup circuit will use the reduced-downforce package.

“When we consider changes to the aero package, we often can look back on our playbook, if you will, from seasons past, and there’s obviously some trade-offs that you make between introducing something completely new that the industry has never seen versus something that we have run before where we have a playbook from our side and (teams) have setup books from their end,” Probst added.

“We felt like we were going to look at aero packages that we have run in the past, and looking back at a lot of competitive metrics that we track, we feel like the 2017 levels of downforce on those types of tracks had pretty good side-by-side racing that our fans enjoyed.”

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