Denny Hamlin gave Joe Gibbs his first victory in NASCAR’s Sprint All-Star race by hold off Kevin Harvick at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It’s been a long time coming,” said Joe Gibbs. Denny Hamlin also won the pole for Saturday night’s race. Now Denny Hamlin is $1 million richer after NASCAR All Star race and is focus to win the Sprint Cup Championship. Watch the video from Fox Sports to see how Denny Hamlin did it…
What transpired at Charlotte and many times over in recent seasons isn’t likely to change soon. The dreaded term “aero push” has been part of the sport’s lexicon for years with numerous attempts to correct the issue.
When NASCAR unveiled its 2015 package featuring a horsepower and downforce reduction it was with the intention of creating more side-by-side racing. The opposite, however, has played out. With less engine power drivers can now carry increased speed — upwards of 18 to 20 mph at some tracks — through the corners due to minimal deceleration. Which only exasperates just how challenging it is to catch and pass someone.
“It’s hard to pass,” Joey Logano said. “There’s no other way to put it. It’s hard to pass, so on restarts you have to be aggressive. All the cars are so close that you get in the dirty air and this race track is just a tough place to race at. It’s tough.”
If they had their druthers, drivers prefer additional horsepower and even less downforce, which would make the cars more difficult to handle and therefore give them more control over performance.
Initially NASCAR seemed receptive and toyed with using this past weekend’s All-Star Race as a forum to test such ideas. Yet recent public comments by high-ranking officials give indication no modifications are forthcoming. Why? Firstly is due to the exorbitant costs incurred by team owners, who’ve recently footed the bill for a completely new car and other competition initiatives. The second reason centers on what is the exact direction to go with its rule package.
“There will not be anything significant at all,” NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France told Sirius XM Radio last week. “Drivers have their own individual interests — as they should. Some like a car loose, some like it different ways.
“What we do is very simple. We want a package that gives us much closer competition — more lead changes, more drivers that have an opportunity to get up and mix it up if they’re good enough and if their team is good enough and putting them in a position to achieve that and safety and cost are paramount as well.”
So though drivers continue to gripe and fans lament the current on-track product, don’t expect a reprieve anytime soon. The modern NASCAR isn’t just about who’s the best driver and team in a given race. No, it’s also about getting in clean air; just as Hamlin demonstrated Saturday night.