The success of the low downforce package at Darlington Raceway last weekend has not changed NASCAR's thinking regarding the rules package for the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday.
"Prior to going into Darlington we all met as an industry and talked about what was the most fair package to put together and what did we think would produce some good racing in the Chase. And ultimately wanted to stick with 2015. We felt like teams had put a ton of time into testing those cars. Goodyear's tires to match up that package for our final 10 races. We all felt that was the best way to go. We can take the proper time to evaluate all the things we've looked at for '16 and really dial that in for the '16 package, knowing that a lot of things have been done for '15 and teams are really prepared for the Chase."
Last month, NASCAR announced that the 10 Chase races would use the 2015 rules package and not the low-downforce package (used at Kentucky and Darlington) or the high-drag package (used at Indianapolis and Michigan).
After his victory at Darlington on Sunday, Carl Edwards was very much hoping that there was a chance to run that low-downforce package in the sport's playoff races.
"I'm kind of a shoot-for-the-moon kind of guy, and I hope a race like tonight makes them think about the idea of running this even in the Chase," Edwards said afterward. "Everybody has developed this package. I believe it's pretty obvious that it races really well and it's really fun to do and it's fun to watch. But even if we don't, I hope next year they really consider going farther this direction."
And it sounds like Edwards' latter hope will come true, according to O'Donnell, who outlined that NASCAR will be sitting down with everybody over the next two weeks with the 2016 rules package a topic of discussion.
"Obviously, the low downforce matched up with the tires got a lot of momentum and we've seen some really good things that I think you will see at a number of races this next year. There are some outliers we want to look at. Some of the bigger tracks, Michigan, California, but as closely as we can kind of stick to two packages, maybe a low-downforce and something different, that's what we’d like to do.
"One of the things we want to make sure we dial in and specifically for each race is really the tires. A lot of people go in and just say 'it's the 2015 rules package' but its really not. There's a lot of variables that go into that with gear ratios, the tires that are selected, so you will see a lot more emphasis on that for '16 depending on the different surfaces we race on and fully expect it to be a incredible competitive season."
Will the high-drag package be a factor in 2016? O’Donnell wouldn’t say either way but some tweaks would be needed.
"Some modifications we could look at (on the high-drag package). Not necessarily anything we've got dialed in right now. Obviously. both those races (Indianapolis and Michigan) produced some challenges for us and we're aware of that and don't want to go out and repeat those ever again. There's some things we obviously learned from both those events. … We want to go and have those discussions with the teams, we'll see what maybe the best thing for those events, especially Michigan."