NASCAR’s Mike Helton on judging high-drag aero package at Indy: ‘We’ll take time’’

5 Comments

NASCAR officials will not rush to judge the performance of the high-drag aero package used in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 although drivers complained about its impact on the race.

NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive’’ that officials will “take time” in assessing the package.

The high-drag package was intended to increase passing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sunday’s race featured 16 lead changes – one more than last year’s race but the second fewest since 2011. Also, NASCAR statistics showed that there were 587 fewer green-flag passes in Sunday’s race as compared to last year’s event, which did have 16 more green-flag laps.

Matt Kenseth called the package “terrible.’’ Kyle Larson said it was “really bad.” Winner Kyle Busch said “you don’t want to feel like you’re going off into the corner and you’re going to crash every time.’’

Helton was more reserved in his comments about the package.

“We’re digesting the signs from it,’’ he told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The fans and the industry saw the race unfold as we did. There were certainly some components, the balance of competition, the opportunities that this package presented for the drivers to perform were of benefit, but we’ve heard the expressions of some of the drivers that didn’t like some of characteristics of the project.

“We can absorb all the of the science and the data we collect, including talking to the industry, the drivers, the crew members and the competition departments of the teams and the car owners to take all of that now and absorb it. That’s part of the reason we created this specific package for Indianapolis – to see the characteristics of it, knowing that there are a lot of personalities in the garage area that have different opinions … but it’s on NASCAR to come up with the one that we put in front of the fans on each individual racetrack each weekend. So, we’ll take time.’’

The package is scheduled to be used again next month at Michigan International Speedway. NASCAR used a low-downforce package at Kentucky Speedway earlier this month and will use that package again for the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend. Drivers lauded the low-downforce package after the Kentucky race.

NASCAR is using races instead of test sessions to try different packages because races provide a chance to run the setups with all 43 cars on the track in situations a test can’t duplicate.

Helton said NASCAR is making these changes “to build the most competitive type of motorsports we can build. We want our product on the racetrack to be pleasing to the fans and that means close competition.’’