After multiple years of significant reduction in the downforce on cars in the Cup Series, NASCAR has announced less drastic changes for its 2018 rules package for the series.
Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR’s vice president of innovation and racing development, told NASCAR.com the goal of the package is to “hold things” and let teams “settle down” before making more changes for 2019. It will also help in the implementation of a new camera-based inspection process that will replace the grid, module and Laser Inspection Station parts of the current process.
Among the changes is the introduction of a common splitter and common radiator and oil cooler. The radiator and oil cooler rule was already in place this season for superspeedways.
“Some of the downforce will be removed from the car, so we will see a rearward shift in the balance of the car,” Stefanyshyn said, estimating a reduction of up to 120 pounds in downforce, for a total of 1,650 pounds of downforce.
Cars will have one rear gear for all tracks except for those that have been reconfigured or repaved.
Other aero/technical rules:
• Spoiler remains 2.375-inches tall by 61-inches wide.
• Net rear steer remains zero.
• Reduction of aerodynamic fans located at wheel corners.
• Front sub frame rules modified to reduce aerodynamic development.
At superspeedways, the ride height rule is being eliminated in a move to improve safety and competition. The rule will improve liftoff speed by about 30 mph. NASCAR is also doing away with mandatory rear shocks and springs. The restrictor plate size will remain at 7/8 of an inch.
Also in the safety realm, an Incident Data Recorder (IDR) powered by car batteries is being added to improve the quality of pre-crash data. Cars will also have a high speed in-car video camera to enhance the analytical capability of crashes. The camera will be located to the driver’s right in the cockpit.
“When we run vehicle power, (the IDR) will be looping and we will be able to catch the frames or the information pre-crash which is very, very important as opposed to at-crash start,” Stefanyshyn said. “We can actually go back in time and watch as that develops.”
Also in the package is the previously announced rule regarding teams having to run multiple engines in multiple races.
Cup teams will have to use 13 short block engines (engine block, crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rods and pistons) for two full race weekends each next season. The teams can choose what races those will be. The engines will be sealed between the points races to prevent tampering.
Backup cars must also unloaded without an engine installed.