Fourteen NASCAR Cup Series teams got a first-hand look at the 2019 series aero package, in its entirety, during a two-day test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
The new package will debut in a competitive environment in the second race of the season on Feb. 24 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The series will then visit LVMS on March 3.
NASCAR’s goal with its new aero package is to improve racing by bringing cars closer together, resulting in drafting at mile-and-a-half tracks. The package includes aerodynamic ducts and tapered spacers to reduce engine output to approximately 550 horsepower.
“This is a journey,” NASCAR Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development John Probst told NASCAR.com. “We started a few years ago trying to bring more entertaining and competitive racing to our sport. This was the first time we got to see 14 cars go out there and run 25 laps. So far, so good.”
Up to 17 cars were on the track at a time, as the 14 participating teams were joined by at least one car from each of the three manufacturers participating in NASCAR’s top series—Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota.
“We’re all trying hard. We all have high expectations for these changes that we’re doing,” Clint Bowyer told Motorsport.com after the first drafting session of the test. “These aren’t just changes made to be changing. We all trying to make this sport better for our fans and everybody involved. This is an important test; everybody knows that, and we need to learn as much as we can. We’re not here selfishly for ourselves, you better not be; everybody is trying to learn as much as they can here. Collectively, we as a group need to put ourselves in situations that we know we will be in the race to see how these cars react.”
Kyle Busch, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver who has been critical of the package since its announcement, maintained his position through the test at his home track.
“We’ve taken the skill away from the driver in this package,” Kyle Busch said during a media availability during the test session. “Anybody could go out there and run around wide open. You could probably do it.”
Darrell Wallace Jr.’s experience differed from Busch’s.
"When we got in the pack, it was a little bit of a handful, and we’ve still got to work on passing a little bit,” Wallace Jr. said.
But Busch doesn’t expect much passing, even though he does expect closer racing.
Driver critiques aside, NASCAR officials were happy with the results.
“We’re encouraged by what we saw on the track,” Probst said.