NASCAR reveals 2014 rules package
December 17, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
New Sprint Cup Series rules package will debut at Phoenix
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams were given the 2014 rules package on Tuesday, less than a week after the final on-track test at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The package was developed after extensive on-track testing with teams as well as in-house analysis at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. The changes are expected to enhance competition on the series' 1.5-mile and 2-mile venues.
The changes for 2014 include:
-- Statically set car at race ride height -- eliminate pre- and post-race front height rules and inspection.
-- The use of a front splitter with a square leading edge.
-- Skirts at 4-inch minimum ground clearance on both the left and right sides.
-- Rear fascia trimmed 1.375 inches higher in current scallop region.
-- The use of an 8-inch high rear spoiler.
-- The use of a 43-inch wide by 13-inch long radiator pan.
Gene Stefanyshyn, who joined NASCAR as vice president, innovation and racing development in April 2013, headed up the project, which comes approximately one year after the introduction of the series' Generation-6 car.
"The dials or the things we could do for the '14 race season were somewhat limited by timing," Stefanyshyn said. "So it shouldn’t be construed that this is the final solution. The amount of flexibility we had given timing was not as great as we have, say, working on the '15 season (when) we’ve got a whole year ahead of us.
"This is really the first installment in a journey towards a continual improvement process in regards to our race product."
Last week’s test, which included mini "races" of 40 laps or less, was the second such on-track effort, but the first with a majority of the teams (approximately 30) participating.
All cars featured the same base configurations prior to the start of the test, and that configuration will be implemented into the new rules package.
The use of a roof strip, as well as tapered spaces that decrease horsepower, were also tested, but are not a part of the rules package.
For now, increases in speed, some of which are part of the evolution of the Gen-6 car and some that are the result of the new package, will likely be dealt with through gear changes.
"The RPMs have been creeping up," Stefanyshyn said. "So we’ll take this opportunity given with the package we introduce here to bring the RPM ranges back down. That will attenuate some of the speed we’re dealing with."
The tapered spacer could be implemented later, possibly in time for the 2015 season.
"This is definitely something that we are entertaining for '15, but we want to take a more holistic approach to when we solve it," he said. "We’d like to be able to do perhaps three things at once, and … come up with a more robust solution that can serve us better in the longer run."
Drivers and crew chiefs debriefed with NASCAR officials after each "race" to provide input and feedback.
"We all have different theories," Penske Racing driver Joey Logano said before the test. “Some of us want a smaller spoiler, some of us want a bigger spoiler, some want a tapered spacer, some want more horsepower. We all have our own arguments … and that’s fine. … "
"We've got to make sure we do this right -- NASCAR as a team, not Penske Racing or Joe Gibbs Racing or Roush Fenway or whatever. We've got to be NASCAR as a team … go out there and make sure we put on the best race for our fans, keep our sport growing and getting stronger. I'm glad to be a part of that."
Stefanyshyn said while NASCAR has plenty of data at its disposal, the reaction of the fans would be the determining factor used to gauge the success of the changes.
"We’ll view it as our customer or a fan will view it," he said. "We’ll view it as are the cars closer together, and are they getting in a position to challenge each other and pass more often?
"So we’ll view it through the eyes of the fan."
The new rules package will be used in competition for the first time when the series travels to Phoenix International Raceway for the second stop of the 2014 Sprint Cup Series season. The new rules package will not be utilized for restrictor-plate races, including the Daytona 500 on Feb. 23.