NASCAR Testing Cars In Wind Tunnel
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on October 22, 2013 | 12:07 P.M. EST
Jeff Burton (31) and Denny Hamlin (11) run during the Oct. 14 test at Charlotte Motor Speedway to try possible rule changes for 2014. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
NASCAR is testing Sprint Cup cars in a wind tunnel Tuesday, as series officials consider rule changes for 2014.
The wind tunnel session follows an on-track test NASCAR did last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. All three manufacturers were represented in both sessions.
NASCAR is looking at aerodynamic changes to help cars race closer together at the 1.5-mile style race tracks. Six teams took part in the on-track test Oct. 14 at Charlotte. Among changes gaining momentum is to eliminate the minimum ride height requirement for next season. There’s also some support for a larger spoiler.
“We’re on the road to figuring out a few things that we could do for the ’14 season,’’ said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development.
Stefanyshyn said that officials likely would determine this week if they would need additional on-track testing before making changes for next season.
Jeff Burton, who took part in the Charlotte test, said he’d be for another on-track test before setting the rules.
“We did an awful lot of things that, to be quite honest, didn’t make a real big difference, but then we did some other things that did seem to make a difference in how the cars drove and the ability to have more cars running close together,’’ Burton said. “It wouldn’t surprise me me to see them go back and do another test with more cars. I think that would probably be the prudent thing to do.’’
One thing NASCAR tried at the end of the Charlotte track test was using a tapered spacer to reduce horsepower. Stefanyshyn said the 1.25-inch spacer would reduce horsepower by about 100 (Cup engines produce about 850 horsepower).
Stefanyshyn said the horsepower reduction was done because some of the aero changes increased the car’s speed. By reducing horsepower, NASCAR could keep the cars at about their current speed.
“Our objective is to kind of end up where we are today, but to have more side-by-side racing with more passing,’’ he said.
Stefanyshyn also said that with any change, series officials, have to consider the cost to teams. Such is the case as NASCAR looks to eliminating the minimum ride height requirement for next year.
“We paid a lot of attention to that and we think directionally it’s correct,’’ he said. “Now we have to just make sure the implementation details are handled correctly so we don’t have teams re-engineering, redesigning and tearing up their cars.’’