The word “ain’t” should never be used, it’s idiotic, stupid, and makes you sound generally uneducated. However, when you’re talking about NASCAR’s future it is the perfect word to use. This ain’t it, NASCAR.
NASCAR announced on Tuesday that they would keep the same 2019 aero package for the 2020 season. The governing body also announced small changes in the number of road crews a team can have, wind tunnel hours, and engine life.
The first part of the release is really the part that just isn’t doing it for the fans. The 2019 aero package was dubbed the “draft” package. It was aimed at making 1.5-2-mile tracks more exciting. Ideally, cars would be able to run side by side in the corner and the field would stay closer together.
With only 7 races left in the season, we have a decent sample size to judge from and this ain’t it, chief. Cars can only run side by side at tracks that are multiple groove or have been manipulated by using the PJ1 traction compound. There have certainly been some entertaining 1.5-mile races in 2019, more than 2018 for certain.
However, the package has ruined the racing at some other tracks. Martinsville, Phoenix, Sonoma, Watkins Glen, Pocono, Indianapolis, Richmond, and New Hampshire have all seen their on-track product suffer from this package. Every one of those tracks saw either a decrease in green-flag passes or a total very similar to the “low” downforce package. All of these tracks have one thing in common, they are moderately flat to flat tracks. Throttle management is key at these types of tracks and all tracks for that matter. The package has been exploited at these tracks and it doesn’t bode well for the 2020 finale at Phoenix.
It Only Gets Worse
The majority of fans don’t seem to care for this package. Each week when the loop data is posted @ApexOff people always talk about how bad the package is. There are some supporters but NASCAR appears to be hell-bent on shoving this high downforce package down fans throats.
And it only gets worse. Not only will the same package be used during the 2020 season it will also be built into the Gen 7 car. Meaning we better get used to this controversial package. While the rest of the racing world is moving away from high downforce in the next year or two NASCAR is doubling down on it. Electing to take increased corner speed and little to no off-throttle time over throttle management and driver skill.
Oh one thing, it’s no longer the Gen-7 car. It will now be known as the Next-Gen car. Which is problematic for when the Gen-8 car comes out. What is after the Next-Gen? This feels a lot like the Car of Tomorrow and that backfired so fast.
NASCAR is doing a good job of alienating fans and putting entrainment over sport. This feels more like a WWE production each week than a Major 4 sport. It’s no longer about driver skill, it’s about who can wring the most downforce out of their car and hold it wide open the longest. Maybe that’s racing to some people. Maybe at the ripe old age of 29, I’ve phased out of what NASCAR is looking for in a fan. But then again, NASCAR doesn’t seem to know what type of fan they’re looking for.
NASCAR lost its core base a long time ago in the pursuit of a mainstream audience. Just this year they said they would “never do that again.” Yet you can easily argue they are doing it again. They’re chasing the millennial crowd who watches clips on Instagram and Twitter. Which is fine but NASCAR seems to think every lap needs to be a viral moment. It doesn’t. Over the course of 36 weeks, you’ll have some dull races. Promote the stories within the sport, fix the package, bring a better tire, and change the schedule. That will get us talking about on-track action far more than off-track nonsense.
This package just isn’t the answer. It’s not inspiring to drivers, it doesn’t entertain fans. It’s the brainchild of some suits who have never sat in a race car, who aren’t NASCAR fans, who frankly don’t understand this sport.
NASCAR is going in a direction, how many fans will follow?
In the meantime, you can always support your local short track and dirt track.
Follow us on Twitter @ApexOff