Drivers excited about NASCAR’s rule change for Kentucky race but suggest more might be needed

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Carl Edwards, who has lobbied for NASCAR to take downforce away from the cars, is excited about the rule changes for next month’s Kentucky race but says series officials can do more.

Edwards was among a number of drivers commenting Wednesday about NASCAR’s plan to reduce the rear spoiler to 3.5 inches, cut the radiator pan to 25 inches and use a splitter with 1 3/4 inches less overhang to enhance the racing. The changes – for now – are only for the July 11 race at Kentucky.

“I’m really excited about NASCAR taking downforce away from these cars and about making the cars harder to drive,’’ Edwards said during a break in testing at Richmond International Raceway.

“In my opinion, they’re a third of the way they need to go. They just need to keep taking it off and making it better and better.’’

Former champion Matt Kenseth said the Kentucky race is a good time to make the changes and see if they work.

“It’s probably as hard to pass or harder to pass than what it’s ever been, which as the competition gets better, as there’s more alliances, more big teams, the cars are closer to the same speed, it’s going to be harder to pass,’’ Kenseth said. “I think we all understand that.

“I think the hope is if we rely a little bit less on the aerodynamics, hopefully the trailing car won’t have as big a disadvantage as he has right now. You got to be a lot faster than somebody right now at these big tracks to be able to pass them. You get four, five car lengths from them, you get in their wake, you get in their dirty air, it’s so hard to close the rest of the gap and actually get around someone.’’

Joey Logano, who also was testing at Richmond, likes the changes NASCAR is making.

“It’s a direction that everyone wants to go, everyone wants to get downforce off these cars and try to put more mechanical grip in it,’’ he said. “My hope is that we’ve put enough mechanical grip in it. If not, we’re going to be sliding around a lot. Maybe that puts on a good race, maybe that doesn’t. It is, I feel the right direction.

“Is it the whole way? I don’t know yet. We’ve got to see what tire Goodyear brings and what that grip level is going to be with all that downforce off. The sport realizes we need to do something to make this better, not that the racing is bad right now. I still think there’s great races out there, but you always want to be better.’’

David Ragan, testing at Richmond, also is happy with NASCAR’s move.

“I’m open for any kind of change,’’ he said. “I’m excited that NASCAR has made the decision to mix things up a little bit.

“I know it’s going to be tough on the teams working to try to find that extra bit of downforce and that extra bit of speed for the new package over the next couple of weeks.’’