NASCAR will make no changes to its rules package for the 2015 edition of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said Friday evening after Sprint Cup qualifying that they had met with the teams at Michigan International Speedway and there will be no changes in the configurations of the racecars during the ten races that will decide the 2015 champion.
“We’ve seen some good things with that package,” O’Donnell said of the original 2015 package. “A lot of work has been done by the race teams already leading up to the final ten races and feel like that’s the best decision for the sport.”
NASCAR instituted several changes in rules packages, configurations to its racecars, last month in an effort to improve passing. There have been two packages; a low drag package used at Kentucky Speedway last month that was met with a great deal of support and a high drag package that was used at Indianapolis later in the month that met with a great deal of criticism. The low drag package will be used again at Darlington in a few weeks and the high drag package is being used at Michigan this weekend.
Friday’s qualifying session at Michigan was the second time that teams had a chance to try NASCAR’s high drag package at the 2-mile oval. Teams were given an extended 2-hour, 25-minute practice session early Friday. The new setup has drastically reduced speeds; all were well under the track record of 206.558 mph set by Jeff Gordon last August. Pole-winning laps have been at the 200-plus mph for five of the last six Michigan races before Friday. The new package s did not receive much of a trial run for race conditions as teams focused on single-car laps.
“This package is so different, it’s really a balance,” Matt Kenseth who won the pole Friday with a lap of 197.488 mph said. “You have to have a car that’s fast, but you have to have a car that handles good or at least halfway decent around other cars so looking forward to getting out there tomorrow (Saturday) and getting to work. Hopefully putting ourselves in some different positions to try to figure out what we need for a setup to be able to maneuver around traffic and still be fast if we can stay up front.”
“I think it’s important to go back and look at what our original plan was, and that was Kentucky, Michigan and Darlington,” O’Donnell said. “Then we looked at Indianapolis too to try to apply the Michigan package.”
“So our messaging all along was that we had the intention of keeping the Chase where it was with the 2015 rules package,” he added. “In some of the dialogue, some of the folks wanted to push forward potentially, but when we looked at all the things that have been done, the preparation that’s been done, the amount of work our industry has put into these races, which we truly appreciate, we think we’re going to have the best racing for the fans with the 2015 package for all ten races.”
On other issues, O’Donnell said that NASCAR will release the 2016 schedule shortly and doesn’t anticipate any major changes. He also said that there will most likely be rule changes for the superspeedway race at Talladega in October after the horrific crash involving Austin Dillon at Daytona in July but had no specifics on what those changes might be as the discussion on those continues.