Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Low Downforce Returns to NASCAR Short Tracks, Road Courses in 2020

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

The much maligned aerodynamic packages that were rolled out for the NASCAR Cup Series last year are getting a facelift heading into 2020 — at least on the short tracks and road courses.

Last season, the aero packages were split between a 750 horsepower package that ran on oval tracks one-mile or shorter and road courses, along with a 550 horsepower package that ran the remainder of the schedule.

The massive eight-inch spoiler and other aerodynamic devices had a negative effect on the racing at the tracks that utilized the 750-hp package, so NASCAR is turning back the clock for the 2020 season and reverting to a much smaller spoiler for those races.

Similar to the low downforce package that was used across the board in 2017 and 2018, the spoiler will be reduced to 2.75 inches, the splitter overhang will be reduced from two inches to a quarter-inch, as well as a reduction in the splitter wings from 10.5 inches to approximately two-inches.

The radiator pan will also undergo some alterations, while the dimensions will remain the same, the vertical fencing is being removed in an attempt to reduce front downforce.

“Our goal has always been to provide the best possible racing for our fans, regardless of venue,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “The 2019 Cup Series race package delivered some of the most exciting races on intermediate and larger tracks that our sport has seen, however, we felt we could make improvements to short tracks and road courses.

“We believe we have found the right balance for 2020 that will allow teams to build off their previous knowledge of this package and showcase exciting side-by-side racing at tracks of all sizes.”

The new rules will be in effect at nine different oval tracks on the schedule, including Bristol Motor Speedway, Dover International Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, and Richmond Raceway.

All three road course races at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, Sonoma Raceway, and Watkins Glen will also utilize the new rules.

The short track/road course package will get its first real-world test when the Cup Series visits Phoenix on March 8, which is notable because Phoenix will host the championship finale eight months later on November 8.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.