CONCORD, N.C. — Four drivers experienced the 2019 rules package firsthand during a Goodyear tire test Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The test also saw the on-track debut of the Ford Mustang, which will run next season.
Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas Racing), Daniel Hemric (Richard Childress Racing), Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing) and William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports) took part in the test.
They ran cars that had an 8-inch by 61-inch rear spoiler, a 37-inch-wide radiator pan that tapers to 31 inches, the new front splitter with a two-inch overhang, a tapered spacer that limits the engine to 550 horsepower and aero ducts.
Drivers spent the morning in single-car runs. They planned to run in a four-car draft in the afternoon.
Daniel Hemric, who moves to the No. 31 Cup car next year, said the vehicle reminded him of how his Xfinity car raced this year, particularly at Michigan and Indianapolis.
“I think right now with what we’ve been running all morning has been very close to that,” he said. “Honestly from watching the All-Star (Race) as a fan, I thought they looked slow, and I expected to feel that way. I went to go run wide open into Turn 1 and as you dropped down in, you knew you were still going 180 mph. The speed sensation is there with this package. I think they’ve done a good job of the horsepower and the downforce, balancing it out.”
Jones said that even though the rules package is not the same as the All-Star Race, that event gives a hint of what the racing could be like next year.
“We’ve got 100 more horsepower, a little bit more downforce, so it will be interesting to see how it works out,” Jones said comparing this package to what was run in the All-Star Race. “I like having more downforce. I like cars with higher downforce, but all the ones I’ve raced with higher downforce had a lot more power. It’s just a balance.
“I don’t know what the racing is going to look like. I think it will be similar to the All-Star Race, honestly. As we have time to work on it, it’s going to get probably get more spread out, which I know people don’t want to hear, but I think that is what is going to happen. I think it will look very similar to Truck racing, restarts will be really tight and bunched up and once the fast guys get sorted out and singled out, you’ll see guys stretch their lead a little bit at times. We’ll see what happens.”
Said William Byron: “I think once you’re able to figure it out and get your hands on it enough, you’re probably going to be more spread out. The biggest difference is you’re kind of accelerating into the corner. We’re not used to doing that. It’s a different feel. Other than that, I think guys are going to figure it out pretty soon.”
Aric Almirola said the extra horsepower helps, noting “It is quite a bit faster than what we had at the All-Star Race.’’
Almirola, who advanced to the Round of 8 last weekend at Kansas Speedway, was excited about driving the Ford Mustang.
“It’s comfortable to drive, it’s fun, it looks awesome,” Almirola said.
“To have the first official competitive laps on the race track has been nice to collect some data.”
Byron said his car blew an engine in the morning session. He said it was a “parts deal.”