New Cup aero package making ‘traffic’ the Phoenix buzzword

“Traffic” will be the buzzword for NASCAR Cup Series drivers this weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

“I think the biggest thing…when we mess with rules packages like this — the goal for this package was being better in traffic; that’s the whole thing,” Ryan Blaney said Friday. “The cars are going to drive how they drive by themselves, and we’ll deal with it and adjust for that, but how do they do in traffic? That’s the biggest thing. The only gripe that you hear of drivers is, ‘Oh, they’re terrible in traffic. We’ve got to get that better.’ So hopefully we just end this weekend and everyone kind of agrees that it’s a step in the right direction.”

Sunday’s Shriner’s Children 500 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) is the first with a new rules package for short tracks and road courses. It features a simplified rear diffuser with fewer vertical strakes, no engine panel strakes and a three-inch spoiler. The changes will reduce downforce on the cars.


“If the trailing car can be a little bit closer to the car in front of them and just not get as tight and just lose so much ground…” Blaney said. “That’s the goal. Hopefully it’s achieved.”

Blaney was one of six drivers who participated in the two-day test at Phoenix in December with the rules package and felt he learned just a little from that opportunity. The simplified diffuser appeared to be a slight improvement during the test.

Friday, teams were given an extended practice session (55 minutes) to work through the new package.

“I think what you’re looking for [is] just, all right, what’s the balance shift?” Blaney said. “Maybe try to get in a little bit of traffic kind of see how the balance of your car shifts compared to the old package. I mean, honestly, in December, there were little things here and there that I think it did better. It wasn’t light at the end of the tunnel. It wasn’t the save-all, but hopefully it’s in the right direction.

“Just seeing what balance is from the fall to now, I think teams are looking forward to that. If you can get around some traffic, too, I think that’s going to be what you’re going to see some guys doing, especially probably at the end of practice when they kind of start fine-tuning their stuff.”

Story originally appeared on Racer