NASCAR mulls hitting brakes on changes to Sprint Cup cars for the 2016 season

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CHARLOTTE — NASCAR seems to be backing off on more changes to Sprint Cup Series cars next season.

After scrapping plans to use a proposed 2016 rules package in the Sprint All-Star Race, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said Tuesday the sanctioning body might stick with 2015 regulations next year.

“I think we’re still developing what the 2016 package could be,” O’Donnell said after a news conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to announce the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class. “It could very well be the 2015 package.”

O’Donnell said the uncertainty was a major reason the series decided not to feature the rules in the All-Star event, which will take place May 16 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“To go down a path that we felt still potentially needed testing, we didn’t think was the right thing to do,” O’Donnell said. “(It would) put essentially a test out there for a big race on our schedule. So we elected to stay where we’re at and continue to monitor the racing under this package right now.”

After a decrease of 125 horsepower and a 30 percent reduction in downforce, the plan was for a larger cut in downforce in 2016. During the preseason Sprint Media Tour in January, O’Donnell was optimistic of having the 2016 rules to teams by May.

But there has been some grumbling among team owners about bearing the costs of a significant rules change for the second consecutive season, and O’Donnell said there had been some pushback among the feedback solicited in the garage.

“I think it’s all over the board,” he said. “Some of the drivers would say they’d like to pursue a different direction. Some like it as is who have had success. From the owner standpoint, we certainly have to manage what we’re looking at for ’15 or ’16 and manage constantly putting new rules in front of them. So that’s where we’re at today.”

O’Donnell said Goodyear still was testing tire combinations if a new package was implemented for next year. The goal is to have the 2016 rules finalized by Aug. 1, about two months ahead of when the 2015 rules were released.

“We’re looking at a number of different options for ’16, including staying where we are,” O’Donnell said. “So we’ll evaluate everything and what we feel like has the best chance of success on the track.”