In what’s sure to be a talking point all offseason long, NASCAR appears ready to use a package used at Charlotte this summer a whole lot next year.
There’s no denying that the racing at this year’s NASCAR All-Star Race was closer and more exciting than it has been for years. The debate immediately following the event was whether that kind of racing, which was accomplished using a combination of restrictor plates and aero elements, was appropriate to be used during regular season races.
Top drivers urged caution. Fan opinion definitely seems divided, and not all subsequent experiments with what pretty much everyone now calls the All-Star Package were successful. Be that as it may, it appears NASCAR may be ready to push forward with a bold bet on something similar to what we saw in Charlotte.
According to SportsBusiness Daily (via Jayski), NASCAR teams have voted on and approved a 2019 rules package that includes something like the All-Star Package at a majority of intermediate tracks — which, as longtime fans know, comprise a big chunk of the schedule.
"A majority of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams recently voted to endorse a ’19 rules package related to the so-called All-Star Package that was tested in May, according to sources. The exact number of races it will be used for was unclear, but it is said to be most events at 1.5- to 2-mile tracks, which would be around 20 of the sport’s 38 races."
it’s important to note that NASCAR has already commented on some ways that an implementation for regular season races would differ from the actual 2018 All-Star Race. For starters, engine power would be reduced with spacers instead of restrictor plates, a small but still possibly important difference. Other comments made it clear that the powers that be are cognizant that drivers need more power to be able to pass once they run up on cars in front of them, so there could be other changes involved to take that into account.
Still, what jumps right out at you isn’t so much that NASCAR wants to spice things up on intermediate tracks — almost everybody does, and the Coca-Cola 600 was a lot less interesting than what happened on the same track the weekend before — but the size of the bet it is willing to make. This is a big swing, one that has the potential to backfire if it angers drivers without increasing fan interest.
On the other hand, NASCAR doesn’t have the luxury of just standing pat, not while TV ratings and attendance continue to trend downward. It can always reverse course for 2020 if necessary, but for the time being, all we can do is hope this move has the desired effect and we’re all talking about how great the racing is at this time next year.