Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Spoiler Put To The Test In Texas

With the majority of the NASCAR media huddled in Charlotte, N.C. for the annual Media Tour, four drivers headed to the Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday to test out the new rear spoiler planned for use in the Sprint Cup Series in 2010. After listening to comments from driver and fans, NASCAR decided it was time to work on replacing the current rear wing on the CoT and go back to the spoiler.

Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers and Greg Biffle – each representative of the four manufacturers –participated in the two-day test at the 1.5-mile speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The day’s event was not an exclusive test of the new spoiler, however. The session was held by Goodyear and the four drivers used both the current wing and the proposed spoiler.

“I thought it (spoiler) was good,” Vickers said. “I thought it added a little bit of front downforce, which is a good thing. I think it’s going to be more accepted to the fans. It looks cooler – a little more retro back to the older car.”

Citing fan complaints, NASCAR’s decision to move back to the traditional rear spoiler is one step in their off-season effort to revitalize the sport. Declining television ratings and attendance records have left NASCAR scrambling to find a solution and for answers they turned to their two biggest assets; the fans and the drivers.

“We’ve got one of the biggest spectator sports in America and they want to keep it interesting,” Biffle said. “They want to keep our fans interested and they listen to the fans. They wanted double-file restarts and they did it, and a lot of fans don’t like the wing because they say it’s not traditional NASCAR. NASCAR asked us about it (the change) and we thought it would be good to put a spoiler back on the car or at least try it. I think it will be good.”

While Tuesday’s test saw the debut of the rear spoiler, there is no guarantee this will be the final product once NASCAR decides to implement this full time into the Cup Series. This version of the spoiler was 64.5 inches wide and four inches high. In addition, the rear quarter panels were lowered four inches towards the ground.

“We haven’t been in a lot of traffic yet, so the big question is how it’s going to handle in traffic,” Vickers added. “Theoretically, from what I’ve been told, the difference between the two is that the spoiler is better in traffic. The spoiler is going to be more efficient in dirty air and a wing will be more efficient in clean air. Once you get in a lot of turbulence, the spoiler’s not going to lose a lot of efficiency while a wing really will.”

Busch, the most recent winner at Texas, had the least amount of track time with the new spoiler, but was overall pleased with what he felt.

“I think we’re stirring up the pot (with the change), but it’s in a positive direction,” Busch said. “A lot of times NASCAR throws changes our way and the drivers and owners grumble about it. With the spoiler, it seems like a positive reaction has been made already and just driving in it today, I don’t see any problem with it at all.

“I hope it creates the aesthetic view that the fans want to see with the spoiler back on the deck lid of these cars. The wings were a change for more of the four-cylinder cars that you see driving around on the streets; they weren’t our hardcore fans that drive V-8s.”

The four will wrap up the Goodyear Tire Test from TMS Wednesday, and NASCAR plans on holding another spoiler test March 23-24 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. There have been no announcements as of yet as to when the new rear spoiler will be introduced full time into the Cup Series, however speculation is mounting that could take place within the first ten races of the 2010 season.

“If you do that math, that’s a very good guesstimate on what’s going to happen, because if we test Charlotte at the end of March, the next mile-and-a-half is here at Texas in April,” Busch said.

“I think six to eight races into the season they can implement the spoiler easily,” Biffle said. “The only thing they have left to do is restrictor plates. For all the intermediate tracks (like Texas), this car will respond fine to this spoiler or if they adjust it some.”

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