NASCAR is making a rule change to the title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
When drivers rev their 550-horsepower engines on November 17, their cars will be equipped with aero ducts.
Pocono Raceway and Darlington Raceway join Homestead as the other two tracks to receive the 2019 baseline rules update.
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano likes the change.
“I think it’s a good move by NASCAR. Keep it simple,” he said. “It’s directionally the right way.”
The reason for the rule change is two-fold.
One is to put an emphasis on drafting and increase side-by-side racing.
Steve Letarte broke down the advantages of the air ducts for NBC.
“Instead of following a motorcycle down the interstate you’re following a tractor-trailer truck and it’s much easier to pull up,” he explained. “Now the guy in second, third, fourth, fifth, as he catches the car in front of him his car gonna run faster.”
The other reason is to make racing packages uniform across raceways.
“When we originally looked at which elements of the package to race at each track, we wanted to err on the side of caution at a few tracks where there may be some brake cooling concerns,” said John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president, innovation and racing development. “After reviewing data from Atlanta, and with what we’ve learned over the first 11 races, we believe we can use the ducts without issue. In conversations with the teams, they emphasized the desire to focus on one race package, which will continue to improve the racing.”
According to Yahoo Sports writer Nick Bromberg, the change will make its mark felt at Homestead where the wear and tear of the progressively-banked track might not hinder drivers as much this time around.
“With air ducts on the cars, drivers won’t be having to get off the gas nearly as much in the corners because their top-end speed will be considerably slower,” Bromberg wrote. “It won’t be a stretch to think that drivers will be able to run flat-out around the entire track on fresh tires. That was impossible in 2018.”
Unfortunately, this is the last championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the foreseeable future. NASCAR is moving the title race to Phoenix in 2020.
Bromberg argues that while Phoenix’s $178 million remodel is worthy of consideration for a big time race, Homestead is the perfect location to push drivers.
“The 1.5-mile oval south of Miami has served as a fair championship test,” Bromberg explained. “Homestead, with its wide racing grooves and worn out pavement, has served as a worthy test for the four drivers racing for the championship.”
NASCAR vice president Steve O’Donnell tried justifying the change by saying that “going to the same track year in and year out could potentially favor certain drivers.”
But as Bromberg pointed out, there have been five different winners in the five winner-take-all races and nine different winners in the last nine races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Homestead will still be on the 2020 schedule, hosting the sixth race of the season on March 22.
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