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NASCAR finds improvements in short-track package at Phoenix

NASCAR saw the expected incremental improvements to its short track package Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.

“There were a lot of passes during the race from the data standpoint,” Cup Series managing director Brad Moran told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The way these races play out, you never know what you’re going to get. But I think we had – and again, it’s still early on, we’re going to dig into everything and talk to all the drivers and teams and do quite a bit of digging here at the R&D Center – like 2,800 green flag passes, which is the most with the Next Gen car at Phoenix. So, it did deliver that.

“But we’re never done looking at improvements and adjustments. Christopher Bell, he didn’t really seem [to have] too much of a problem passing, that’s for sure. He had a dominant race. It was a pretty interesting race from the tower.”

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There were 2,813 green flag passes in the Shriners Children’s 500. The previous high mark at Phoenix with the Next Gen car (which debuted in 2022) was 2,584 from the spring 2023 race.

Bell won the race by 5.4 seconds after taking the lead during the last round of green flag pit cycles. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver started 13th and drove through the field after having a slow pit stop when the team took the time to double-check the right rear lug nut, and again when the field split pit strategy after the final caution.

There were 19 lead changes in Sunday’s race.

The new rules package featured a simplified rear diffuser with few vertical strakes, no engine panel strakes and a three-inch spoiler. NASCAR tested multiple packages during a two-day test in December at the racetrack and took driver feedback about the car’s handling. Goodyear also brought a different tire compound designed to degrade faster.