Michigan to host first 2015 rules package test
June 20, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
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SONOMA, Calif. – NASCAR will begin initial on-track testing of its 2015 rules package for the Sprint Cup Series following the August race at Michigan International Speedway.
The series returns to the two-mile track Aug. 15-17. Approximately four teams from each of the automakers – Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota – are expected to remain an additional day to participate in the Aug. 18 test.
OEMs said while they have not been given any specific information concerning what the test would involve, they expect the focus to be on aerodynamics. Although NASCAR officials have spoken about a possible reduction in horsepower for the series, how that would be accomplished, if put into practice, has not been finalized.
"They will come up with a matrix of parts and pieces we will bring and go through it with a systematic testing process," Dave Wilson, president and general manager for Toyota Racing Development (TRD) USA, said.
"I think it's just the quest to further improve the quality of racing. On the whole everyone has been happy with the changes they made year over year. But by the same token I think everyone believes we could be better, the racing could still be better at certain venues. The ability to pass, to race side by side, all those things, there's always room for improvement."
Both Wilson and Pat Suhy, manager, Chevrolet Racing, NASCAR Group Manager, said the timing of the test is a plus for the series. Although research and development work for this year’s package began earlier in the year, actual on-track testing by multiple teams didn’t take place until December.
"When you look at the lead time required for teams to begin implementing changes, the sooner you can begin working toward those (changes) the better," Suhy said.
Changes for 2014 consisted of statically setting the race car ride heights and eliminating pre- and post-race front ride height rules. A square leading edge was added to the splitter; adjustments were made to the rear fascia and side skirts and spoiler height was set at eight inches. The addition of 43-inch by 13-inch radiator pan rounded out the changes.
The focus this time is not expected to involve underbody additions or modifications, according to Suhy, although he said that such information has yet to be provided to those involved.
Gene Stefanyshyn, vice president of innovation and racing development for NASCAR said the Michigan test "will be a great opportunity to gather more information, help us validate much of the great research done by engineers in our sport and drive us one step closer to our 2015 package."
Aug. 19 has been set aside as a possible rain date, should inclement weather prohibit any on-track activities.
No specific teams have been chosen for the test. Wilson and Suhy said team participation would depend on the organization’s individual testing schedules. The series moves to Bristol Motor Speedway following the Michigan race.