NASCAR delivered the 2021 Cup Series rules package to teams on Thursday afternoon, and the most notable change involved which package will be run for the two races at Darlington Raceway next year.
At Darlington (scheduled for May 9 and Sept. 5), teams will utilize the 750-horsepower, low-downforce race package. In 2020, this package was run at tracks 1 mile in length and under and at road courses. The three races held at the 1.366-mile Darlington track in 2020 used the 550-horsepower package.
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The 750-horsepower package will also be used on June 20 at Nashville Superspeedway for the first Cup race at that venue. With that change and addition, 23 of the 36 races will be run with 750 horsepower.
In addition to more horsepower, that package includes:
— A significantly smaller rear spoiler, which shrinks from an 8-inch height to 2.75 inches.
— The front splitter’s overhang measures a quarter-inch (down from 2 inches), with approximately 2-inch wings (reduced from 10.5 inches).
— Alterations to the radiator pan, removing its vertical fencing in an effort to reduce front-end downforce. The dimensions of the pan remain the same.
“We constantly review the race packages to try to put on the best possible racing for our fans,” said John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president, innovation and racing development. “When we brought in the short track/road course package this season, Darlington was not part of it due to its unique size. We’ve been evaluating data from both race packages, as well as feedback from drivers, teams and OEMs and feel that the 750 hp/low downforce package best fits the track.”
The rules package will generally remain the same in 2021 as teams look to build off their knowledge and experience from the race package in 2020 while preparing to transition over to the Next Gen car for the 2022 season.
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The aero package for the new road courses on the Cup schedule — Circuit of The Americas, the Indianapolis Road Course and Road America — will be determined by the sanctioning body, working with OEMs through the use of simulations to determine which package will work best. This same exercise was done earlier in the summer to determine which package to run at the Daytona Road Course, which was a late addition to the 2020 schedule.
In other changes, teams must compete in a minimum of 16 points events with a short block sealed engine. This is up from the minimum of 13. Teams are also restricted to 150 Restricted CFD (computational fluid dynamics) runs per calendar month.
Below is the breakdown of each engine package and where it will be used:
750 horsepower: Bristol Motor Speedway (both oval and dirt), Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, Circuit of The Americas, Darlington Raceway, Daytona Road Course (which the Busch Clash is running), Dover International Speedway, Indianapolis Road Course, Martinsville Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, Richmond Raceway, Road America, Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.
550 horsepower: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.
Superspeedway: Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.