New Aero Rules Debut In Opening NASCAR Xfinity Series Practice At Indianapolis

Ryan Reed during opening practice for the Lilly Diabetes 250 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [John Wiedemann Photo]

By Dan Margetta

Speedway, Ind., July 21—The NASCAR Xfinity Series Lilly Diabetes 250 event scheduled for Saturday, July 22nd will mark the debut of a new aerodynamic rules package implemented by NASCAR with the goal of improving the racing action on the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The new rules package includes a return to the 2016 splitter which stretches out front of the cars more than the 2017 version coupled with a 7/8 inch restrictor plate that provides a 225 horsepower reduction. A larger rear spoiler that measures 64.75 inches wide and 6 inches tall with 2 inch extensions is also part of the package along with large aero ducts added to the front of the cars in an effort to throw air out from behind the cars and create a wake.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Managing Director Wayne Auton detailed the changes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday morning .

“I think everyone knows we’re not afraid to try stuff and we’re pleased with the package,” Auton stated after explaining most of the information came from an October Indianapolis test involving drivers Brandon Jones, Ryan Reed, and Blake Koch, “I believe the teams bought into it because they want to make the best racing we can.”

“It was definitely a huge, drastic difference, it was like five seconds difference in speed,” said Ryan Reed, one of the drivers involved with the test, “I think that gap will shrink a little bit as everyone puts a little more R & D into the package but it was very different.”

“It’s kind of a guessing game because there were only three of us and you really don’t know what’s going to happen until you get out there with 38 or 39 other guys,” Reed continued “But if I had to guess right now, I kind of think it would be similar to what you see during the Indycar race here. You might see four or five guys break away but the leader is not going to be able to get away. I think the fans are going to enjoy it.”

The change was slightly noticeable as the NASCAR Xfinity Series cars took to the track for the first of two scheduled practice sessions Friday afternoon as on some occasions, multiple cars hooked up to form long conga lines around the track. The practice session also featured some, but not a lot of, “slingshot” type passes as the drivers entered the first and third turns.

“I haven’t really seen too much out of it yet, “defending Lilly Diabetes 250 winner Kyle Busch stated after the completion of the opening session, “I’ve only been in a group of about three or four cars so it will be interesting to see what happens on restarts and with bigger groups of cars and to see how much we can keep that group of cars together.”

“It kind of seemed like whenever we would get five or six of us somebody would want to shuffle to the back and then somebody would pull off so there just wasn’t a big enough group,” Busch continued, “ The biggest thing I noticed for sure was the horsepower, just the lack thereof, you can pretty much run wide open leaving pit road all the way around to start your run and just run wide open the whole rest of the time. To me, it’s about trying to not lift as much as you can. You may have to here or there in traffic in order to time a run or something like that, but other than that you can pretty much run wide open.”

Elliott Sadler topped the speed charts in the opening session with an average lap speed of 166.420 mph and he was followed by teammate Justin Allgaier at 166.211 mph. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Bush and Erik Jones timed in third and fourth respectively at 165.810 mph and 165.508 mph. Paul Menard was fifth fastest in the session with an average lap speed of 165.466 mph.

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