'Most Amazing ... Race'
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on August 19, 2014 | 4:55 P.M. EST
Denny Hamlin said he was amazed with the racing when teams tried a low downforce package during Monday's NASCAR test at Michigan to help set the 2015 rules package. (Photo: Getty Images)
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. - With the zeal of a carnival barker, Denny Hamlin proclaims less downforce on the cars will improve the racing.
He believes it because he saw it Monday at Michigan International Speedway during NASCAR’s test to determine the 2015 rules package.
At the end of the day-long test session, NASCAR tried a concept suggested by some drivers and reduced each car’s downforce about 30 percent.
“It was like the most amazing nine-car race for the first couple of laps,’’ said Hamlin, who watched that mock race as his team prepared his car for a later session with less downforce.
“It was crazy to see them out there with their hands full. We have star drivers in this sport for a reason because they’re the best drivers. They’re with great cars and great car owners, but I felt like we were heading in a direction where you just put anybody up front at the end of these races and any car, mediocre to a decent car, they were going to win the race. Now I believe your star drivers are going to show back up again with this package.’’
Hamlin noted that teams had about 20 minutes to put a setup on the car for that portion of the test before taking part in a mock race. He’d like more time.
“I challenge NASCAR to give us a day with that and see what we can do,’’ he said. “I’m really excited.’’
Hamlin estimated a 40 mph difference from the end of the straightaways to the middle of the corners because drivers had to let off the accelerator in the corners.
For all of Hamlin’s excitement, NASCAR has not made any decisions on what direction it will go for next year’s rules package. Series officials will spend time examining data collected from the test.
Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development, said before the test that the goal was “to try to raise the level of the product, the competition.’’
Hamlin’s teammate, Kyle Busch, likes less downforce but is more cautious about that approach.
“It lends itself to more separation (between cars),’’ Busch said. “The better drivers are going to better succeed. Sometimes that leads to separating the field. With the package we have now, I think it does bring the backmarkers up a little bit more because it is a little bit easier to drive.’’