Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Has the Return of the Spoiler Improved NASCAR Sprint Cup Competition?

Photo Credit: Undefined/NASCAR Media

Seven Sprint Cup races ago, NASCAR rules reverted the current spec stock cars to replace the rear deck wing with a rear spoiler blade. A welcomed change for Sprint Cup competition, the action was seen as NASCAR swallowing their pride as they were now willing to improve a highly critical aspect of the so-called COT car.

Since the COT(Car of Tomorrow) introduction, NASCAR's choice of a rear wing over the more conventional spoiler blade was scolded immediately. Fingering the wing as causing instability problems for the race vehicles, some alleged the wing caused at least two Sprint Cup cars to go violently airborne. The first coming at the 2009 spring Talladega race where Carl Edwards' #99 Ford sailed dangerously into the track's catch fence, a more recent incident involved a flip at Atlanta Motor Speedway's Kobalt Tools 500 this past March. At Atlanta, the #12 Dodge of Brad Keselowski was tagged by a disgruntled Carl Edwards.

Overall, the chief complaint of the wing was that the device discouraged passing. After 7 races, some on-track conclusions be now be made whether the fixed rear spoiler could improve Sprint Cup race competition. A quick way to evaluate the change is comparing the lead change count from the last 7 events of 2010. The following list compares the spoiler to the past 3 average race lead changes (past 2 races for Talladega Superspeedway and Texas Motor Speedway). The chart also compares the races with the new spec Sprint Cup car to the old spec vehicle which last ran in 2007.

Martinsville (Change: +8.33)

Spoiler: 24
Wing: 15.667
Year before COT: 12

Texas (Change: +12)

Spoiler: 29
Wing: 17
Year before COT: 13

Phoenix (Change: +8)

Spoiler: 20*
Wing: 12
Year before COT: 20

* 2010 Phoenix race was extended in length by 63 laps to 375 for the event.

Talladega (Change: +33.5)

Spoiler: 88
Wing: 54.5
Year before COT: 42

Richmond (Change: -3.66)

Spoiler: 12
Wing: 16.33
Year before COT: 12

Darlington (Change: -8.667)

Spoiler: 20
Wing: 28.667
Year before COT: 25

Dover (Change: +0.667)

Spoiler: 20
Wing: 19.33
Year before COT: 23

Judging the lead change data, the rear wing apparently triumphed in aiding an increase in 1st place with only Richmond and Darlington races showing a drop in lead passes. Of course these results are far from conclusive as other factors such as double-file restarts, green-flag pit stops or basic competitiveness of each race weigh in the compilation. However, it does seem to support the argument that the rear spoiler is the right move for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. As the 2010 season continues, it remains to be seen if the lead change improvements will run deeper into the schedule.

No comments:

Post a Comment