Using restrictor plates at Indianapolis dovetails with aerodynamics, team official says

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NASCAR’s efforts to improve the racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway stretch well beyond the restrictor plates that will be used for the Xfinity race July 22.

In an interview with SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s NASCAR channel Tuesday morning, Richard Childress Racing director of competition Dr. Eric Warren said NASCAR has been working with teams on aerodynamic enhancements for the 2.5-mile track.

“There’s been a lot of work with the teams, the aero guys with all the teams, and working with NASCAR on different things,” Warren said on “The Morning Drive” program. “Lots of collaboration. Different aero items of how you create drag and an intermediate-type car at Indy to kind of draft almost. How can you make that work?”

Kyle Busch led 62 of 63 laps in last July’s Xfinity Series main event at IMS, highlighting the difficulty in passing at the front.

“The way the cars are, the rules are, it’s a single-groove racetrack,” Warren said. “The speed of that track and the entry and layout with stock cars, it’s really difficult to pass. Even with the perfect situation. Even 15 years ago, it was difficult to pass.”

NASCAR held a test with the Xfinity cars of RCR, JR Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing to try the restrictor plates after last year’s race.

“We were trying different aero devices and things,” Warren said. “It certainly is an alternate view of what can be done. Time will tell with getting into Turn 1 and what other problems get created. You can say, ‘We’re going to do restrictor-plate racing and bunch everybody up.’ There are other items to consider. You have to get a feel for how this works out. I’m more on the interest side than convinced either way.”

A high-drag package was tried at Indianapolis in 2015 with suboptimal results.

“Unfortunately, everyone learned lessons there that were undesirable features,” Warren said. “You add a lot of drag, but the aero behavior didn’t make it easier to bunch the cars up and draft. You have to address both at the same time. They’ve done a really good job of combining the two. The question is going to be when the end product happens, is the race better or do you end up with something like Daytona with a lot of wrecks and crashes, which maybe is exciting for some but not for others.”

In a separate interview, JRM driver William Byron said using the restrictor plates, which reduce horsepower by cutting airflow to the engine, is “worth a try.

“I really kind of race whatever we’re given, especially being a rookie,” he said. “I’m trying to adapt to whatever it is. I think restrictor-plate racing there is going to be an interesting thing. I think that when they don’t have restrictor plates, it seems like it’s gotten really spread out, and it’s tough to pass. It’s worth a try. I don’t know if it is the right thing. We’ll see what happens. It could be a really good race.”