Wednesday’s second day of a two-day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test session at Charlotte Motor Speedway ended with resounding validation as teams prepare to transition from the wing on the rear of their cars to a spoiler.
This Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Martinsville Speedway marks the first with spoilers on NASCAR’s new car. The wing-to-spoiler switch was one of several rule changes announced earlier this year.
“I really like the spoiler,” said Carl Edwards, one of several drivers who visited Charlotte’s infield media center on Wednesday. “I think it looks great. I think it’s a great move. The fans are gonna like it and it doesn’t seem to make the car feel much different.”
The spoiler to be used at all tracks except Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway will be 64.5 inches in length and four inches tall in the center. It will be affixed at a 70- degree angle and is non-adjustable.
Beginning with the April 16-18 race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, a 3.5-inch-tall rear-deck fin will be added to the left side of the car. This fin can either be the full length of the deck-lid or a maximum of eight inches short of the spoiler. With the deck lid fin and its length options, the teams will have some flexibility in adjusting rear side force.
“Overall, this was a very good test for us,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “I think the spoiler, plus the rear deck, are going to make the cars ‘racier.’ ”
The wing replaced the traditional stock-car spoiler on NASCAR’s new car, now in its third fulltime season. NASCAR Sprint Cup teams ran the wing for 93 races, beginning in March 2007 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Last week’s spring race at Bristol was the wing’s final event.
“I think the good thing is that there’s nothing large or big jumping out at us saying the spoiler is a lot different,” said Jimmie Johnson, the reigning and four-time series champion who visited the media center Wednesday as part of NASCAR’s weekly teleconference (full transcript and audio available at www.nascarmedia.com). “We’ve just been kind of working on our race car and working as if this was just a normal test and there was no change at the back of the car with a wing versus a spoiler.”
Normalcy, in fact, was one of the many positive reactions emerging from the two-day test.
Opportunity is another.
“I feel like this is a new opportunity to maybe gain some ground, where before some other teams had an advantage on you,” said David Reutimann. “Now, you got something that’s completely new and it’s kind of a clean sheet of paper for almost everybody. It’s just going to see who can adapt the quickest.”
Crew chief Jimmy Elledge, who oversees driver Scott Speed’s team, concurred.
“I look at things like this as a new challenge and a clean sheet of paper for everybody,” Elledge said. “No one really has any experience with this and the quicker you adapt and learn it, maybe you can get the jump on everyone.”
“Teams will adjust accordingly,” Pemberton said. “It won’t be the same for everybody, and it’ll definitely be something that they’ll have to work towards to get their handling packages correct around other cars during the race, but the drivers like the spoiler and are more comfortable with it and the fans seem to like it, too.”
“Aesthetically, it makes the cars look better,” said Kurt Busch. “There is some fine-tuning available with the rear-deck fin and that’s pretty cool. We’ll have a couple of races with the spoiler under our belts before we get to Texas and that will be our first big test with it.”
This week’s Charlotte test follows last week’s one-day session at Talladega Superspeedway, where approximately 24 teams worked spoilers along with mechanical issues for the April 25 event at Talladega. The Charlotte test addressed only the spoiler.
Both the Charlotte and Talladega tests are exceptions to the current testing policy. For the second consecutive season, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams may not test at facilities that host national-series events. This year, teams may test at tracks that host regional touring series events, but not national series events.