If there ever was a perfect weekend for the All-Star aerodynamic package to come back up after the races, this was the weekend. We saw two completely different races at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday and Sunday between the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events.
I’ve written articles in the past promoting the use of the All-Star package, but I think this past weekend gives a perfect example as to why I think the All-Star package is so important to the Cup Series. We already know that it’s not coming anytime this season due to some drivers and owner backlash, but it’s rumored to be running 14 times during the 2019 season.
Saturday, the Camping World Truck Series rolled into MIS and put on a great race with a package that is very similar to what the Cup cars would be running with the updated aero package.
In the Truck race there were 16 lead changes in a 100 laps. Nine different drivers had their turn at the front of the field and the most laps led was 18. The race also saw a last lap pass for the win when Brett Moffitt edged out Johnny Sauter coming to the line with the margin of victory at 0.025 seconds. The entire race saw trucks running together in small packs with the leader unable to distance himself from the rest of the field. There was plenty of old school slingshot passing and the effects of the draft were significant. Clean air didn’t overrule the effects of the draft and we were treated to an awesome racing event.
Then Sunday came.
We saw a snoozer in the Cup race.
The Cup race had 15 lead changes in 200 laps, one less than the 100-lap race the day prior. On top of having a fewer number of lead changes, that number was a bit skewed in the Cup race due to the fact that several of the lead changes came during the late green flag pit stop cycle. Kevin Harvick had led from laps 110-170 before pitting.
Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray all led laps in that cycle, inflating the lead change number higher than it truly was. Harvick also led 108 of the 200 laps and won by 3.233 seconds over Brad Keselowski.
I’ve said it before and I will continue to say that the Cup cars are too fast for their own good. The sheer speeds they are running is counterproductive to the racing product they could put on with slower speeds and the All-Star aero package.
There was an eyeball test this weekend and NASCAR conducted an experiment, whether they meant to or not.
The aero package run with the Truck Series shows that the slower speeds that create tighter racing is far superior to the breakneck speeds in the Cup series where all the cars get spread out in just a handful of laps.
At the end of the Cup race fifth-place was almost 10 seconds behind. Meanwhile, in the Truck race, the top four were all within three quarters of a second of one another at the line and 10th was just over five seconds behind.
The All-Star aero package is rumored for many races in 2019 and I’m anxiously awaiting next season already. For the most part 2018 has been a dud of epic proportions.
The updated aero package is, admittedly, a bandaid to the overall bigger problem with the cars themselves but at least, in my opinion, the bandaid fix will be much better than the racing for most of 2018 so far.
The last race before the playoffs is at Indianapolis, a track that has produced 16 lead changes over the past two years. I hope for the sake of NASCAR that Indy can produce a decent race that isn’t dominated by one of usual suspect who wins by seven seconds. Perhaps with the strategy needed by some drivers on the outside looking in, Indy can produce something better than usual.
This weekend we head to Bristol where aero isn’t such a big deal and we should see plenty of side-by-side racing and perhaps some tempers flaring. A good race at Bristol would help a lot of people forget about a bad Michigan race as we inch closer to the 2018 playoffs.
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