Phoenix Short-Track-Package Testing: Day 1

The Phoenix short-track-package testing: Day 1 comes to you after a long day of tire testing and mock races — which produced some pretty optimistic drivers and engineers.

What Was Tested

NASCAR asked teams to bring their cars set up the way they had for Phoenix. They gave teams a short practice time to dial in their cars for track conditions. Don’t forget that Toyota and Ford both have new bodies this year, and Legacy Motor Club is making their first appearance for Toyota.

Two mock races followed. All six cars ran one 15-lap mini-race, the cars were ordered in a different position and another 15-lap race ensued.

Teams spent the rest of the morning testing different tires. They tested the Fall Martinsville tire, which is the softest tire Goodyear has used for Cup Series racing in recent tire, and they tested a set that had very soft left sides and right sides with a thicker tread.

The first post-lunch test was with a bigger splitter. Teams were given about an hour and 15 minutes to dial in their cars before running the second set of mock races. They then moved on to test the new splitter along with the simplified diffuser, which has only the two strakes in the underbody instead of the five used at other tracks.

How Did It Go?

Drivers uniformly praised Goodyear’s tires. Erik Jones opined that the results were good and would likely apply to a lot of other tracks. He did mention that he’d like to see how the softer tires perform in terms of durability. Ryan Blaney praised Goodyear for the work they’ve done with adapting tires to the new car.

Results were mostly positive for the aerodynamic changes. NASCAR’s director of vehicle performance Dr. Eric Jacuzzi characterized them as “neutral to positive”. Jones said he couldn’t tell too much difference, while Blaney said that everything (the tire, the splitter and the diffuser) was an improvement.

What’s Next?

It’s another 12+ hour day tomorrow. In the debrief after the track session, drivers really wanted to try the splitter and the diffuser with the new tires. NASCAR has some other options it also needs to testing involving mufflers. So there’s a lot left on the drawing board for tomorrow.

Jacuzzi will definitely sleep better tonight than he did after the Richmond test.

“Yeah, I feel a little more happy,” he said. “We were, I think, pulling our hair out at Richmond. “After getting promising results in the wind tunnel, he says, they went to the Richmond test, “and then the driver says ‘you took half the downforce off the car and I didn’t even notice: I don’t know if math works’.”

Math definitely works. Today, it made a step in the right direction.

That’s the Phoenix short-track-package testing: Day 1 story. I’ll have more tomorrow about what actually happens during testing and the results from the second day.

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