NASCAR testing in Charlotte aimed at better racing 2014

jutter@charlotteobserver.comDecember 11, 2013 

NASCAR Testing 2014 Auto Racing

Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives his car out of Turn 4 during NASCAR Sprint Cup testing Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord for the 2014 season.

CHUCK BURTON — AP

— The calendar still says 2013, but all eyes in the garage area of Charlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday were focused on 2014.

NASCAR directed a day-long test, including simulated races and more than 30 cars, in hopes of finding a combination of rules changes that improve racing, particularly on 1.5-mile speedways such as Charlotte.

While results were not immediately known, turnout was key for NASCAR.

“With aerodynamics playing such a key role, it’s important that we run as many cars as we can,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president for competition. “Different tracks give us a little different feel as far as aerodynamics, different (racing) grooves.

“You can never have enough cars when you go test things like this.”

The ideas tested included the elimination of pre- and postrace front height rules, less ground clearance on the cars’ sides, larger rear spoilers, roof strips and different sized radiator pans. They also tested some changes that would reduce horsepower.

“Really what we are attempting to do here is to get closer competition and more passing – more with an eye for the fans,” said George Stefanyshyn, NASCAR’s vice president of innovation.

Four mock races were conducted, with debriefings that included drivers, crew chiefs and NASCAR officials following each one.

NASCAR officials plan to analyze the data and, combined with information from the October test at Charlotte, have a rules package set by early next week.

Stefanyshyn said the testing has been focused on 1.5-mile tracks but “any of the learning can be applied to other tracks.”

Some of the measurement methods used are the time differential between the first- and fifth-place cars and the time differential between the 10 fastest laps.

New NASCAR COO: Brent Dewar, a former General Motors executive, was named chief operating officer of NASCAR, a new position in the organization.

“Brent brings creativity, drive, intelligence, operational acumen and a clear understanding of our assets and challenges to NASCAR,” said NASCAR chairman Brian France.

Dewar has served as a consultant for NASCAR over the past year.

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