Speeds will fall with next year’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rules package and that’s a good thing.
Some were lamenting Ryan Blaney’s Texas pole-winning speed of 200.505 mph – the second fastest lap at a 1.5-mile track in history – because it will be the last for a great long while. Given NASCAR’s new package for next year will knock things down to about 450 horsepower it will be some time before speeds creep up that far.
The hope is that will be a good thing.
The trade off of speed for better racing is one most every fan should take immediately. Corner speeds in excess of 210 mph does nobody any good. Drivers do nothing more than hang on trying to navigate their way through treacherous turns like the newly reconfigured Texas layout. The opportunity for side-by-side racing and actual passing becomes low if not non-existent.
So in theory the package that combines horsepower restriction with aerodynamic modifications inspired by but not a duplicate of what was used in last year’s All-Star Race will create a better product.
“I don’t want to take away from anything Kevin Harvick did,” said NASCAR vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell after Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
“Having said that, I think we would all agree on the race entertainment quality between Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there’s a difference. I think we also know that we’ve got a new rules package in place next year that again some of you have not too been too positive about but there’s a reason we’ve got to that, and I think this would be one of the reasons.”
As with anything in life there are no guarantees. Not everyone is in agreement the rules package will be a magic wand that will suddenly create a series of memorable races in 2019. Realists know no matter what the circumstances such a bar will never be met.
But after a week of nothing but positive discussion from a slam bang short track Martinsville finish that once again amped up the cry for more short tracks, the sport did not need a less than scintillating follow-up at a 1.5-mile track like Texas. O’Donnell is correct in his assessment of the superiority demonstrated by Harvick, crew chief Rodney Childers and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team. They did what every team strives for on a weekly basis by dominating the day for the most part and then having to win the race in an overtime finish.
To be fair, repaving any track like was forced at Texas simply takes time for things to settle, rubber to be laid and more than one racing groove be created.
However time with an impatient fan base like NASCAR’s is a luxury that simply can not be afforded these days.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.