Motorsport News

NASCAR Moving in the Right Direction 1 Step at a Time

2023 Cup Phoenix I pack racing V - Michael McDowell, No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford, and Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Team Penske Ford (Credit: NKP)

“Are you ever going to be able to fix dirty air?” “No. It’s in very form of motorsports now. No matter what. No matter what you’re racing, racecars depend on air at some level.”

Joey Logano spoke to the assembled media at Phoenix Raceway on the Saturday morning before the 2023 United Rentals 500, the first race in which NASCAR would run its new and (hopefully) improved short track package.

The sanctioning body made the changes in response to lackluster racing on flat tracks of a mile or less and road courses in 2022. Drivers participating in a test over the winter asked to try a smaller spoiler to create less downforce, making the cars harder to drive but less aerodynamically dependent.

But was it enough?

The racing on Sunday was decent – at least in the pack – with some good battles through the field for much of the day. Overall, it was an improvement over last year. But was it enough for fans? The drivers offered mixed reviews throughout the weekend.

“The goal with changing the package is they’re trying to make racing better at short tracks,” said Logano, who went on to mention that it’s a start, but not an end solution.

“I don’t know if I’d call it the fix, but it’s definitely the right direction to make racing better on the short tracks. I’ll make it a lot more fun for the drivers and more entertaining. The cars are harder to drive, and you’re forced to move around the racetrack more, which opens up opportunities to find clean air. That’s one part that was a struggle last year is that everyone ran the same lane, and you couldn’t move around to find clean air.

“So, there’s some more options for drivers, more fall-off, which is something we’ve always asked for. There will be more comers and goers possibly as drivers may overuse their tires and abuse them or get their balance off from short run to long run and it just makes for more passing on the racetrack, which is directionally good for racing.”

Tyler Reddick added, “It’s a little different, not groundbreakingly different. A lot of things we struggle with in dirty air remain the same.”

AJ Allmendinger echoed Reddick’s thoughts. “The cars are still tough in traffic. They’re gonna slide around more, so I do think… hopefully it makes the racing better for that. I think, in general, dirty air is still dirty air and it’s going to be a…

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