By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
There were a lot of unknowns about the aero-package heading into the 2018 Monster Energy All-Star Race. NASCAR implemented a taller spoiler, aero ducts, and a restrictor plate for the exhibition race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Post-race, drivers of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, including defending Champion Martin Truex, Jr., Joey Logano, and eventual race winner Kevin Harvick, called the package ‘different,’ ‘fun,’ and ‘racy.’
The race in total had 12 official lead changes, becoming just the third All-Star race to reach double-digit lead changes (2004 and 2016 being the others). In total, there were 38 lead changes at scoring loops this year, opposed to zero last year.
NASCAR’s Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell offered his thoughts on the package post-race,
“I would say now, directionally you do like some of the things you see, now you’ve got to get together with the industry, debrief like we always do with the race teams, the drivers, certainly listen to the tracks and the fans, then the OEMs, talk about how do we continue to look at this and look at it in a smart way, look at it in an efficient way. Can’t really put a timetable on it other than we know we have some meetings set up that we’re contingent upon what we saw tonight. Those will take place, then we’ll try to put a timeline together to look towards 2019.”
Last season, Kyle Busch dominated the final segment of the All-Star Race, leading all 10 laps, and having a 1.274 second margin of victory. With the restricted aero package used this year, although Harvick led all 10 laps of the final segment, the margin of victory was just 0.325 seconds. He had to hold off charges from Daniel Suarez, Joey Logano, and Denny Hamlin among others.
This was not a fact left out by O’Donnell as well,
“I think Kyle Busch won the All-Star Race last year by one point one, one point two seconds. 10th place was one point five. There’s a big difference there. I think you knew on lap seven that Kyle Busch had won the All-Star Race. I think we all knew that last year. It was different this year. But still certainly something when you look at this package, very similar to Indy last year, when you looked at the ability for someone to get up to the leader, then that stall, that is something we want to look at.”
The package was tested in the Monster Energy All-Star Race after NASCAR’s communications with the Race Team Alliance, Owner’s Council, and various partners. With the current climate in NASCAR, the package will not be used in next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600. However, there is a chance that the package, or a variation of it, could be adopted later this season, or next season.
“I would never say never,” O’Donnell admitted, “but our intent is we’ve talked coming into this, was to try this here, then really take a deep dive into how do we make this the best package possible for 2019 if we liked what we saw. Again, it’s still very early. You all watched the race, we just watched the race as well, so we have to digest a lot of information and see where we go from there.”
Until then, it’s business as usual for everyone in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.