ThatsRacin

Spoiler alert: NASCAR trying out new aerodynamic package at Indy

Chad Knaus, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet, inspects the rear spoiler during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on Friday, July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis.
Chad Knaus, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet, inspects the rear spoiler during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on Friday, July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis. Getty Images

Ever driven down the road and noticed something blocking your rear-view mirror?

That’s some of what NASCAR drivers are facing this weekend as they prepare for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

A 9-inch high rear spoiler – about 3 inches taller than normal for Cup cars – will be included in an experimental high-drag aerodynamic package for the race. The result of the new package, NASCAR hopes, will be more passing and reduced speeds on Indianapolis’s 2.5-mile track. Much of that will come from that higher spoiler poking up in drivers’ rear-view mirrors.

“It’s challenging to see,” driver Joey Logano said. “You have a small gap where the spoiler is clear and you can see out of that – but it’s kind of hard. You only get a certain amount, but I think I can see about five car lengths behind me, and then any cars that are farther back than that I can’t see.

“That isn’t the end of the world.”

When you get two cars side-by-side with this package, the guy in third is going to have an extra engine.

Jamie McMurray, on the effect of the larger rear spoiler in use at Indianapolis

It also isn’t the end of this particular package, which will also be in place for Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis. NASCAR will use the same setup in August’s race at Michigan. Another package, featuring lower downforce (with an even lower spoiler), was used earlier this month at Kentucky and also will be implemented at Darlington in September.

The impact of the higher spoiler at Indianapolis and Michigan should mean more clean air behind cars, allowing those trailing to close the gap more easily.

“I honestly think until we get into the race on Sunday that it’s hard to get anyone’s true opinion on what we are going to have,” said Jamie McMurray, the 2010 Brickyard champion. “On Sunday, when you get two cars side-by-side with this package, the guy in third is going to have an extra engine. It’s going to be crazy the amount of speed that he is going to have.”

Drivers got an idea of what kind of effect the new package will have during Friday’s three practices. Denny Hamlin was fastest in the morning (182.208 mph), Dale Earnhardt Jr. early in the afternoon (181.466) and Kurt Busch (181.987) later in the day.

NASCAR also will use the higher aerodynamic package again at Michigan in August

“I drafted a car down the back straightaway as he was pulling (onto pit road) just to get closer,” Logano said. “The (high) amount of speed you gain as you get closer and closer to that car in front of you, and then I pulled out because he was pulling in and when I pulled back into the air, it was like putting the brakes on. It was like, ‘Whoa.’ The draft is huge.

Logano, who won the Daytona 500 in February, doesn’t think the package will have that much of an impact on how Sunday’s race plays out.

“It’s Indy,” Logano said. “Right now, we haven’t seen anything different because we’re not out there in a pack and seeing what’s going on out there. But it’s Indy. It’s always a tough place. It’s always one of those places that strategy is going to come into play. That always happens here, and I think no matter package you put on it, strategy and the way you play out this race will always be interesting.”

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