Team Penske might have been victorious in the two races NASCAR ran with the potential 2017 rules package, but Brad Keselowski says Ford is behind when it comes to the current aero setup.
NASCAR took six cars, two from each manufacturer, after the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 1 for a midseason evaluation that included a trip to the wind tunnel. The results, according to Keselowski, who admitted he did not see the numbers firsthand, revealed that the Fords are at a disadvantage.
“I could read the faces of the people that did see the numbers, and I know the meetings that happened right after and I would say based on that there were some reactions to say we were a little further behind than we wanted to be,” Keselowski said Friday morning at Michigan International Speedway.
Keselowski’s teammate, Joey Logano, is the most recent winner at Michigan (June 12), which was the first race NASCAR used the reduced downforce package. Keselowski followed it up with a July 9 victory at Kentucky Speedway, which also featured the smaller spoiler (2.5 inches), a splitter reduction of two inches and the re-sizing of the rear deck lid.
“From an aero perspective right now the Fords are the worst,” Keselowski said. “So when you go to a lower downforce, we aren’t at quite a disadvantage. Since we are running well we have other advantages on the car, but from an aero perspective we are the worst in that category, but the lower downforce fits us well.”
Penske has a total of five wins this season, four of which have come courtesy of Keselowski. In addition to his Kentucky win, the No. 2 has earned victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, Talladega Superspeedway in May and Daytona International Speedway in July.
On the strength of his four wins, Keselowski would be the current top seed in the Chase. However, he and Logano are the only Ford drivers sitting in the top 10 in points. Chris Buescher, via a strategy play to win the rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400, could make it three Ford drivers in the Chase as he sits inside the top 30 points.
As for any additional changes that Keselowski would like to see NASCAR make to the rules package, he noted it hurts the sport when there are continual changes. It also seems to punish Team Penske, Keselowski said, as a rule change occurs when they are on the upswing.
“I wish we would stop changing things for balance of performance,” Keselowski said. “I think that is a bad thing. I think balance of performance is something that hurts our sport when we continue to make changes and concessions. As long as when we are on the good side of that it stays the same.
“It seems every time we get on top there is a wind tunnel test or some kind of rule changed to try to pull us down but when we are behind it is like, ‘oh now, let’s keep it fair and equal and everyone with the same opportunity.’ As long as it is consistent either way I am good with that.”