Last year, relatively minor changes in the body style caused Chevrolet to begin the season with little momentum and allowed Ford to get a head start. Teams now have several large changes that need to be factored into the handling of their cars.
“With a new package, it’s a bit of a reset,” Kligerman said on Wednesday’s show. “No one exactly knows what is going to be best. Everyone is going to show up at Daytona and then go on to Atlanta and say ‘all right, what’s best? I don’t know. We’re going to find out.’
“They’re going to do the best simulation, the best research they can, but when you have that unknown – that X-Factor – that just opens up that door for teams to catch up to other teams and for bigger teams to make a mistake and not really hit it right off the bat.”
According to Kligerman, this could result in an extremely tight race in the middle of the pack. Last year Richard Childress Racing placed one of its drivers in the playoffs on the strength of Austin Dillon‘s Daytona 500 win. Teammate Ryan Newman finished the season 17th in the standings.
Only 68 points behind, Roush Fenway Racing finished 18th with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The Wood Brothers and Paul Menard were nine points behind in 19th.
“We’re talking about the rule change condensing the field and maybe giving midfield teams a chance to catch up. And when I look at teams that would be right there in the middle – your fringe playoff contenders – I look at (Richard Childress Racing). And now the other side of that is if some of those teams behind them are able to catch up more, it puts more competition. … It almost condenses the field and gives them some teams they weren’t fighting with before catching up.”
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