If you give most people the opportunity, they will make logical decisions.
Unless of course those people run NASCAR.
I sat through that snoozer at Indianapolis a few weeks ago when NASCAR debuted its high-drag aero package. Well, I can’t say I sat through the whole thing. I slept some.
Ok, I slept a lot.
I have never been a huge fan of stock cars on the iconic 2.5-mile oval, but what NASCAR did with the package was atrocious.
The package included a nine-inch spoiler on the rear deck (increased from six inches) with a one-inch wicker bill; a rear fascia extension panel similar to those used for superspeedway events, a two-inch leading edge on the splitter and a 43-inch splitter extension panel (radiator pan).
“The original (aero) package … was for Michigan; we had built this package specifically for Michigan and then worked to implement it into Indianapolis,” Steve O’Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer for NASCAR, told NASCAR.com last week. “We feel comfortable with the package we have set up … but we certainly learned some things at Indy.”
Michigan was worse. In 400 miles of racing there was one (!) green-flag pass on the track for the lead. Sure, you look at the race report and it says there were 16 lead changes, but 15 of those changes occurred on pit stops or under caution. A race that will keep me awake, that does not make.
So, what we’ve found is that what NASCAR tried at Indianapolis produced a dog, but since the package was designed for Michigan, by god, they were running it at Michigan. Good job guys.
While I didn’t like it from the vantage point of my couch, the drivers on the track, other than Matt Kenseth, who dominated the event, had a similar reaction.
Only they could not roll over and catch a nap.
When a reporter inquired as to his thoughts on the package, Joey Logano, who finished seventh asked, “What did you think?” When the reporter responded that there wasn’t much passing, Logano said, “That’s what I thought, too,” before saying he didn’t want to run the package again.
The normally verbose Brad Keselowski was conspicuously noncommittal.
“It’s not my deal, man,” he said.
“It’s not my right to say. It’s not my sport, so whatever they want to do, we’ll race it. That’s my job. I think we saw almost exactly what everybody thought we’d see. I’ll let you guys (media) judge whether that was good or bad.”
Ringing endorsement from the 2012 champion.
Martin Truex Jr. lamented his inability to pass, leading to a third-place finish.
“We could run anybody down and get to them,” he said.
“But it took a long time to pass cars. It was just so damn hard to pass. I could run a guy down from way back and get to him and about spin out. It’s no fun to race like that. We had a car that could have contended with the 20 (Kenseth) today and just couldn’t ever get there.”
NASCAR has been tinkering with different aerodynamic packages. In addition to the normal rules package and the high-aero configuration, they ran a low-downforce setup at Kentucky last month with much better results.
The package will be back on track for the Southern 500 next month at Darlington. Neither of the special packages will be used once the Chase for the Championship kicks off at Chicago on Sept. 20.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the effort to make the racing better. 2015 has been terrible on the track. But, you have to at least look like you know what the hell it is you are doing. NASCAR, you are a professional sports league – more or less. Can we please put some egos aside, make a logical decision and put the high-drag package on the shelf?
I want to stay awake for a race. I really do. Please help me.
Andy Cagle writes a weekly column about NASCAR. Follow him on Twitter @Andy_Cagle.