The Monster Energy Cup Series will feature a different rule package for many races for the 2019 season. This measure will be tailored to each track on the circuit, with a combination of a smaller tapered spacer, to reduce the horsepower produced by the engine to a goal of 550 (down from 750), and aero ducts that could allow for tighter racing on most speedways longer than 1 mile. The Daytona 500 will be the same package as last year: traditional restrictor-plate rules. The aero ducts and tapered spacer will be used at 17 of the 36 races and five other races will feature the smaller spacer, but no ducts.
In addition to the track by track package, there are some baseline changes for 2019 package: taller 8-inch by 61-inch rear spoiler, larger front splitter with a 2-inch overhang, wider radiator pan measuring 37 inches wide in the front tapering to 31 inches at the rear. These are changes that will be in effect at every track in an effort to add downforce to balance the handling.
This quote from Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, gives some insight into the thought process behind the changes.
It’s really been over a two-year process, working with the race teams, the OEMs, specifically the engine builders and probably the most collaborative effort we’ve had across all the industry stakeholders, including the drivers, to get to this package. For us, it’s really a focus on getting back to a true focus on the drivers and what NASCAR is all about — close side-by-side racing and trying to deliver more of that.
According to O’Donnell this was a collaborative effort in the industry and was partly to avoid cost-prohibitive rule adjustments at each of the 24 different tracks on the schedule. He also admits to having heard both encouragement and frustration from fans and drivers alike voicing their opinions of the new rules package. O’Donnell is hoping fans will let the racing on the track answer their questions.
I think it’s important for a fan to let it play out, right? I’ve heard it from some of the drivers, but I’ve also heard the opposite from some of the drivers, and I think what’s important to focus on for next year is we want the focus to be on the drivers… If you look at where the sport is today, I think the balance might be a little out of whack in terms of the importance of aerodynamics versus the driver and the car, and so the purpose of this is really to put it back in the drivers’ hands. We’ve got the best drivers in the world. We want to see them out there side by side. We’ve seen this package play out already, we’ve seen the best drivers and teams win.
The two-day test at Las Vegas Motorspeedway that begins tomorrow, January 31 at 11 a.m. ET will be an excellent opportunity for fans to get a glimpse of the new aero package in action. It will be streamed on NASCAR.com, complete with analysis, reactions, and driver interviews live from the track.