Dr. Diandra: Dissecting Cup’s new short track package Kaulig Racing tabs Dirt Late Model’s ‘Superman’ for Bristol race William Byron to drive three Truck races for Kyle Busch Motorsports NASCAR weekend schedule for Phoenix Raceway Wood Brothers: The long journey toward win 100

This week at Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR will unveil a new short track package for the Next Gen. Modifications with a 30% reduction in downforce are intended to improve frustrating small-track racing in 2022.

What has changed in the new shorttrack package

The most obvious change is the 2-inch spoiler, which is half the size of the spoiler on other tracks. The short track spoiler is also narrower, at 58 inches wide compared to the 60 inches used on other tracks.

But the most significant changes are under the car. The Next Gen car generates downforce with a smooth underbody that draws air out from under the car. Lower pressure sticks to the track.

The process is largely controlled by a part of the bottom called the diffuser. I circled the diffuser in yellow in the photo below. I also tagged diffuser skirts and five stretched located between the skirts.

The following photo shows the diffuser in full growth. You can also see the bolts holding the pieces together. Thanks to the modular design, NASCAR was able to implement the new package so quickly.

Photograph of a diffuser showing the position of the stripes and skirts.
Photo Credit: Dustin Long

What is a strike?

A strake, like a splitter or spoiler, is an aerodynamic appendage that causes air to move above (or below) the car in a very specific way. Andrew McColgan, NASCAR aerodynamicist at the Chevy Technical Center in Charlotte, explained that a complete understanding requires paying attention to subtleties. vortex dynamics.

So let’s try an analogy. Imagine a stadium or other facility where large crowds of people gather. When an event ends, people want to leave as quickly as possible.

If the exit is one large opening, people are moving towards it from all directions. They have to slow down or speed up to avoid colliding with each other. It’s basically free for everyone.

The best idea is to create lanes that point everyone in the right direction. People leaving the stadium see the lanes and correct their path in advance. You can think of stripes in the same way. They create the fastest way for air molecules to escape from under the car.

The new Next Gen short track package removes three internal straps (indicated by red arrows in the photos) and shortens the diffuser skirts. This prevents the rapid exit of air molecules from under the bottom of the car, which reduces downforce.

Despite its location at the rear of the car, the diffuser creates a front And rear downforce. To maintain the balance of the car, it was also necessary to remove the engine panel struts, which are located closer to the front of the underbody.

Less downforce, more driver effort

Eric Jacuzzi, NASCAR’s vice president of vehicle performance, told SiriusXM “The Morning Drive” radio that the new short track package delivers about 30% less overall downforce than the original package. Testing showed a slight reduction in speed immediately due to less drag due to the smaller spoiler. However, cornering speed was reduced by about 8 miles per hour.

Cars with high downforce can go anywhere on the track chosen by the racers. The shortest route on the track is usually the fastest. Everyone wants to pass this line. Overtaking requires a longer distance to be driven, which is difficult when the cars are so close in performance.

Josh Wilson, manager of the NASCAR aerodynamics team at Chevy, explains that cars with less downforce give drivers more options. Drivers will have to experiment with how they enter and exit corners, how quickly they apply the brake and gas, and where on the track they can get their car to work.

In theory, all of this should lead to more overtaking and better racing. But will it work in Phoenix?

“I don’t think it will get worse” Bubba Wallacecrew chief Booty Barker told me. But he sees a new package of Next Gen shorttracks as a first step. Since the diffuser is bolted on, removing the slats was relatively easy. Bigger changes require suppliers from one source to produce enough new items to supply all teams.

Is one car achievable for all tracks?

NASCAR planned for Next Gen to produce great races at any track using the fewest different rule packs. Bullet roads, of course, require unique configurations. So is the Bristol Mud Race.

At the start of the 2023 season, NASCAR added select short track tracks to the list of road courses requiring vehicles to operate in wet conditions.

The desire to keep the number of separate rule packages to a minimum is the reason why the new short track changes will not be used in Bristol or Dover. Roll and speed on these tracks are too high for a wet weather package. If NASCAR added a new aero package to these tracks, teams would have to test the short track package with and without the wet weather package. Each test costs money.

How NASCAR balances the needs of different tracks with the one car/all track concept remains to be seen.

Dirt Late Model rider Jonathan Davenport, who ended a historic season, will make his Cup debut at next month’s Bristol Dirt Race with Kaulig Racing, the team announced on Thursday.

“It’s pretty hard to put into words,” Davenport told NBC Sports of his Cup opportunity. “This is what I dreamed about since childhood and lost hope for it. I realized where I am, where I was going to be.

“I never thought that I would have such an opportunity now that I am older. I thought my window had faded into the background. It’s just amazing and pretty unbelievable that I’ll get a chance to race (in the Cup) at all.”

Nutrien Ag Solutions, sponsor of Kaulig Racing and Davenport’s late model, will sponsor Davenport’s #13 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Bristol. He will be a teammate of Kaulig Racing. Justin Hailey And AJ Allmendinger.

Superman Davenport, 39, and three-time Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series champion won over $2 million last year. Among his 24 wins last year was the Eldora Million..

Chris Rice, president of Kaulig Racing, told NBC Sports that what Davenport did last year “is beyond words. And I want to say it in ALL CAPS. You cannot express it in words. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Davenport, who won the XR Super Series title last year, continues the lineup of drivers from other series in NASCAR this season.

Indian car driver Conor Daly and motorsports superstar Travis Pastrana both competed in the Daytona 500. Pastrana finished 11th in that race. Former F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen will return to the Cup to race on March 26 at the Circuit of the Americas in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car. Jordan Taylor, a former IMSA champion, will be driving this race instead of an injured driver. Chase Elliott.

Davenport admits he is “nervous” about being in the Cup.

“I still have a lot of questions about how the whole weekend will go,” Davenport said, noting that he usually only practices for about three laps before a very late model run compared to 75 minutes of practice. for the Bristol Cup. “I like to be ready for everything I do.”

Davenport, a five-time World 100 champion at Eldora Speedway, won nine races last year that paid at least $50,000, including Knoxville Late Model Nationals and World 100.

He said he hopes to show that late-model dirt racers deserve a chance at the top ranks of NASCAR.

Jonathan Davenport. (Photo: Caulig Racing)

“Hopefully one day I can open doors for someone else,” Davenport said. “I could look at it that way, and I kind of look, but I try not to put pressure on myself. I put enough pressure on myself to perform for myself, my family, sponsors and car owners. I could put the weight of the world on me. I hope I make everyone proud of myself and do my best.”

At the moment, the focus is on preparing for the race on April 9 in Bristol.

Davenport was in the store to pick up a seat and learn about cars.

“We’re trying to do our best so that when it gets into the simulator, it’s real life,” Rice said. “We were thinking about doing some testing and stuff like that and I thought I thought the simulator was better for us and we did better with it than with the tests.”

Despite Haley being an experienced off-road racer, Rice is hopeful that the team will benefit from Davenport’s off-road knowledge.

“That’s what it’s all about, trying to make our program better, trying to make our drivers better,” Rice said.

Davenport says he is looking forward to racing in NASCAR. He raced against Kyle Larson in the dirt of late models and against Kyle Bush in Legends cars in Las Vegas many years ago.

“Some of them I have competed against before,” Davenport said…


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