NASCAR announced that it will keep the rule package the same for the Chase for the Sprint Cup instead of using a low-downforce or high-drag package.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, made the announcement after telling teams Friday night at Michigan International Speedway.
“We’ve seen some good things with that package,” O’Donnell said. “A lot of work has been done by the race teams already leading up to the final 10 races and feel like that is the best decision for the sport.”
NASCAR used a low-downforce package last month at Kentucky Speedway and will use it again for next month’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. A low-downforce package was tried during a Goodyear tire test last month at Chicagoland Speedway, which hosts the opening race in the Chase.
NASCAR used a high-drag package last month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is using it this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
The changes are NASCAR’s attempt to enhance the racing and creating tighter competition. NASCAR Chairman Brian France said last month on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he wants to see more drafting and pack racing.
“Our messaging all along is that we had the intention of keeping the Chase where it was with the 2015 rules package,” O’Donnell said. “Some of the folks wanted to push forward potentially, but when we looked at all the things that have been done, the preparation that has been done, the amount of work our industry has put into these races … we think we’re going to have the best racing for the fans with the 2015 package.”
Asked why the low-downforce package won’t be used in the Chase after the increase in passing at Kentucky, O’Donnell said: “Absolutely a lot of great things happened during that race, but that was one race. We’ve got to take the time to dial those things in and make sure that everybody is on the same page. That does have a lot of momentum and a lot of positives that we can apply to Darlington and then make some calls post-Darlington.”
O’Donnell also addressed other issues:
- He said he does “not anticipate major changes” to the 2016 schedule, which should be released within a month.
- He said “there probably will be” rule changes for the Talladega race in the Chase in light of Austin Dillon’s crash at Daytona in July but said discussion continues on what those changes will be.
- On if restrictor plates will be used in the future at Michigan and Auto Club Speedway, O’Donnell said: “Certainly (Auto Club) and Michigan share some same characteristics, the racing at (Auto Club) has been terrific lately, so we’ll kind of take all that into consideration and see what we learn Sunday and go from there.”
After NASCAR’s regular season wraps up September 12th in Richmond, the Chase grid will be set. Sign up at nbcsports.com/gridchallenge and lock in your picks for each stage of the Chase for a chance to win $16 million.