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NASCAR Conducts Test at Phoenix Raceway to Experiment for 2024


Photo Creds: NASCAR.com; Sean Gardner of Getty Images


 


Several teams in the NASCAR Cup Series have travelled from their headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina to Phoenix Raceway, a 1-mile oval track in Avondale, Arizona to test a new aerodynamic package for the 2024 season. While the on-track product this past season was spectacular, NASCAR always experimented during the off-season, with various test sessions for different amounts of horsepower, different tire compounds and even new cars, prior to them hitting the track a year or two before their releases. 


 


This week, the 2-day test consisted of six drivers, two for Chevrolet, two for Ford and two for Toyota, all of which are dedicating track time to see if the Aerodynamics can be improved upon.


Drivers participating consist of defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher, winner of three races in 2023, representing Ford for which they are testing the new Mustang Dark Horse model. The 2021 Cup Champion, Kyle Larson and Corey LaJoie, a three-time top-5 finisher in the Cup Series are representing Chevrolet and Erik Jones, who’s a 2-time Southern 500 winner and Christopher Bell, a two-time Cup Series Championship contender representing Toyota, who are out in the desert testing out the new Toyota Camry XSE.


 


Improvements to the transaxle are being experimented on, which will consist of various gearing options to reduce or eliminate shifting at short tracks (tracks a mile or less in length), the option to utilize mufflers, which will remove heat from the driver’s cockpit and the option for Goodyear to run through a series of tire combinations. 


 


This entire test will be crucial in determining which direction NASCAR wants to go in for the coming years as well. “I would say we have a pretty long laundry list of items being tested”, said Chris Poiela, NASCAR’s senior director of aerodynamics. “It’s kind of just a collection of items which we’ve been working on throughout the year with feedback from various people in the industry. We’ve kind of categorized them into specific departments, consisting of aero, some gearbox changes for handling and shifting, and we’re also looking at design changes on the mufflers and some things we can do that’ll help control the heat inside the car, then we’re going to collaborate with Goodyear on tires (Six Teams Set for Test at Phoenix with Plenty on Agenda).


 


 


Last season, NASCAR went to Chicago, Illinois, to take on the city streets around Grand Park. Many were outraged by this decision, both locals and fans alike. This was not NASCAR’s first time racing in a city area, with the first being a race in Los Angeles, California, taking place inside the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. NASCAR utilized mufflers for the Los Angeles event to reduce noise pollution, so the same idea was to advance this idea to the next event they have in a major U.S. city. The event was a hit and many forgot that the mufflers were in place, so NASCAR likely sees this as a possible permanent change for the sport (Long, Dustin). 


 


“After we conducted a test at Richmond, we were trying to make sure that we looked through enough data and if there was anything we could particularly improve upon.” Poiela said. “Upon reviewing the data, if there was anything we could improve upon, we did it via CFD (computational fluid dynamics) testing and wind tunnel testing. The hope is that we can bring the best aerodynamic package we can and improve the short-track package and the road-course package”. 


 


Many fans have complained about the on-track products for short tracks and road courses on X (formerly known as Twitter), due to the lack of passing specifically. Every race in the last two seasons had an influx of fans running to Journalist Jeff Gluck’s “Was this a good race” poll, flooding them with many “no” answers. NASCAR is paying close attention to comments and surveys on social media, as well as their fan council surveys. This test is a good thing because it indicates that the league is aware of the dissatisfaction from fans (Six Teams Set for Test at Phoenix with Plenty on Agenda).


 


After various tests earlier this year with various modifications to the short-track package, but to no avail, NASCAR is working hard this winter to ensure that the racing gets better and the fans get “more bang for their buck”, so-to-speak”. Racing is a contact sport and the fans want more of the close racing they saw before 2022. The current generation car has a 5-speed sequential shifter, which caused many drivers to shift between 4th and 5th gear on the straightaways. Due to every single car practically being equal, this has led to an infrequent amount of passing and action. Hopefully, with the Phoenix Raceway test coming to a close on Wednesday, December 6th, NASCAR will have a better understanding of what they would like from this test and expect in 2024 from the short tracks and road courses.





Sources:


 


Six Teams Set for Test at Phoenix with Plenty on Agenda | NASCAR, www.nascar.com/news-media/2023/12/04/six-teams-set-phoenix-test-before-2024/. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023. 


Long, Dustin. “NASCAR Begins Two-Day Test at Phoenix on Tuesday.” NBC Sports, NBC Sports, 4 Dec. 2023, www.nbcsports.com/nascar/news/nascar-begins-two-day-test-at-phoenix-on-tuesday. 


 


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