NASCAR announced Wednesday the base NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rules package to be used during the 2016 season, a combination that will lower the aerodynamic downforce on cars competing in its premier series.
The base package will include a 3.5-inch spoiler (down from 6 inches in 2015), a 0.25-inch front leading splitter edge (2 inches in 2015) and a 33-inch wide radiator pan (38 inches in 2015). The 2016 package allows tire partner Goodyear to develop track-specific tires to complement the aerodynamic effects.
Under a lower downforce package, drivers are more likely to lay off the throttle when entering a turn, creating slower corner speeds. That combination generates more passing zones throughout the entire track and provides more options for tire combinations.
Earlier this season, NASCAR ran a similar aero package during races at Kentucky Speedway and Darlington Raceway, both of which saw an increase in green flag passes for the lead over previous seasons.
“We're continuing to work with the industry on developing the appropriate elements of the rules for each track,” O’Donnell said during a national media teleconference. “The core goal for us continues to remain the same, and that's deliver the best and safest racing possible for the fans, and it's a goal that the entire industry shares. It's a great thing in terms of working together with the industry, this year especially. It's never been stronger. We're confident it's going to continue to deliver great racing for the fans.”
In addition to the base package, each track will continue to feature specific components tailored to each venue, including tire combinations and drive train configurations. Rear gear ratios will be adjusted to maintain a maximum engine speed of 9,000 RPM and a 1.38 third gear ratio will be used at all tracks smaller than 1.25 miles. The digital dashboard, which was optional for teams during the second half of the 2015 season, will be mandatory in all vehicles.
NASCAR also announced several safety upgrades on Wednesday, including a double NACA duct where a right-hand side window is used, a fire suppression system activation cable routed to the dash or right-hand side leg board and a seat belt restraint system that meets SFI 16.6 specification.