If you liked this year’s NASCAR Sprint
Cup action at Michigan, you ought to love
NASCAR 2017, because the lower-downforce rules tried there are likely to
be in place across the board next season.
The sanctioning body first cut
downforce in 2015 after a decade spent
increasing it and cutting horsepower. The
new regs reduced rear spoiler height
from 3. 5 inches to 2. 5, and spoiler width
was reduced from 61 inches to 53 with
the inclusion of a deck lid fin. NASCAR
also decreased the length of the
underside of the front splitter by about
three inches and eliminated rear skew –
the angle of the rear-end housing that
aids rotation in the center of a corner
while generating side force.
The changes mean drivers enter the
corners with increased speed, while also
having to lift off the throttle to make it
through to the other side.
“For a racecar driver, 220mph is fun
and honestly not that scary. What is scary
is running 200mph at the end of the
straightaway and 198 at the end of the
corner,” related Aric Almirola. “And it
really hurts when the right-front tire
blows out and you hit the wall.”
The instability of the cars under the
new rules is also good for the racing
product, according to Brad Keselowski.
“The cars are very loose,” the Team
Penske driver said. “They are very
difficult to drive and they should be. That
causes a lot of wiggles and bobbles, all
those things that tend to lead to a lot of
excitement. Hopefully, it gets the cars to
where we can run closer and tighter as a
pack and have even more passing.”
Ironically, Keselowski and his Penske
team were slapped with penalties after
Michigan’s August race for failing
NASCAR’s Laser Inspection System
post-race. While the rules may change,
the game of testing the limits of those
rules goes on.
Betty Jane France, the widow of Bill France Jr.,
died Aug. 29. A noted philanthropist, she also
served as vice president and assistant
treasurer of NASCAR and chairwoman
emeritus of the NASCAR Foundation.
Michigan shows the likely way forward for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series
THE LOOSER THE BETTER?
LARSON SPREADS THE
WEALTH FOR GANASSI
It may have taken longer than
expected, but Kyle Larson’s first
NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Michigan
was timely on a number of fronts.
Larson, who car owner Chip
Ganassi acknowledged represents
the “foundation” of his team’s stock
car future, beat fellow Sprint Cup
up-and-comer Chase Elliott on the
final restart and held on to the win.
“I was tearing up that whole last
few laps,” admitted Larson after
winning in his 99th Sprint Cup start.
His victory and the continuing
strong showings of Elliott provided a
welcome boost for NASCAR amid
the pending retirement of Tony
Stewart, re-retirement of Jeff
Gordon and uncertainty surrounding
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s future.
It also added to a remarkable
year for Ganassi, whose teams have
now scored wins in no fewer than six
racing series – NASCAR Sprint Cup
and Xfinity, IndyCar, IMSA, WEC and
ABOVE: Larson and crew celebrate a
victory that represented much more
than a personal breakthrough.
feels the twitchy
nature of the cars
under lower-downforce rules is
good for the sport.
Kyle Larson is the first Sprint Cup
winner to come out of NASCAR’s
“Drive for Diversity” program.
All the latest NASCAR news at
An all-inclusive winner
Downforce cuts ensured squirrelly
racecars at Michigan – bad news if, like
Kyle Busch, your car was “getting looser
by the lap” before this spin in the early
going, but a net positive for fans.