NASCAR cuts spoiler as part of changes to short track package

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NASCAR revealed changes Tuesday for Cup teams at short tracks in 2020, including the championship event at Phoenix Raceway, in an effort to improve the racing at those tracks.

The racing quality at short tracks last year drew much criticism, leading NASCAR President Steve Phelps to say in November at Miami that “our promise to our fans … is that we are going to provide the best racing we can at our short tracks.”

Among the changes for those specific tracks:

  • A significantly smaller rear spoiler, which shrinks from an 8-inch height to 2.75 inches.
  • The front splitter’s overhang will now measure a quarter-inch (down from 2 inches), with approximately 2-inch wings (reduced from 10.5 inches).
  • Alterations to the radiator pan, removing its vertical fencing in an effort to reduce front-end downforce. The dimensions of the pan remain the same.

The changes are similar to what was used in 2017-18. The package will be used for 14 races — 11 on short tracks and the three road course events.

Tracks with changes will be Bristol, Dover, Martinsville, New Hampshire, Phoenix, Richmond, the Charlotte Roval, Sonoma and Watkins Glen.

Phoenix Raceway will host the championship race Nov. 8. It is the first time the track has hosted the Cup title race.

Five of the 10 playoff races will feature this new package. Those races will be Richmond (Sept. 12), Bristol (Sept. 19), Charlotte Roval (Oct. 11), Martinsville (Nov. 1) and Phoenix (Nov. 8).

Bristol, the Roval and Martinsville are all cutoff races in the playoffs.

The short package will make its debut March 8 at Phoenix Raceway.

“Our goal has always been to provide the best possible racing for our fans, regardless of venue,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, in a statement. “The 2019 Cup Series race package delivered some of the most exciting races on intermediate and larger tracks that our sport has seen, however we felt we could make improvements to short tracks and road courses. We believe we have found the right balance for 2020 that will allow teams to build off their previous knowledge of this package and showcase exciting side-by-side racing at tracks of all sizes.”

O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” that the changes made for 2020 will carry over to the Next Gen car.

“The good news for the future car is it has those built in already, which will be a bonus based on what we learned,” O’Donnell said.

Frustration built last season for competitors and fans with the racing at short tracks.

Martinsville prominently illustrated the issues at short tracks last year. Brad Keselowski won the spring race after leading 446 of 500 laps. Martin Truex Jr. won the fall playoff race, leading 464 of 500 laps.

The Richmond playoff race had six lead changes among three drivers. Truex, the race winner, and Kyle Busch, who finished second, combined to lead 311 of 400 laps.