Depending on who you talk to around Richmond International Raceway this weekend, NASCAR's technical bulletin regarding the rear suspension rules are either a big deal or won't have much of an impact at all.
For example: Jimmie Johnson, whose Hendrick Motorsports team has been most often using the rear-end setups to great success, said there will be "no change" to what his cars are doing when the bulletin goes into effect next weekend at Chicago.
Martin Truex Jr., though, said Johnson was "stretching the truth a little bit."
"We all know they were doing something," Truex said, "but I don't think it's just the bushings (parts covered in the tech bulletin) that were doing it."
The official word from NASCAR is the bulletin "doesn't change any rules we've already had," Sprint Cup Series director John Darby told the NASCAR Wire Service.
"It reconfirms how far teams can go with their rear suspension setups," he said. "Teams have found that, with a car's rear-axle steer, more is better as it helps with aero and gets the cars through the corners faster."
The bottom line is that rear-axle steering improves the aerodynamic properties of the Cup cars and allows them to turn more easily through the corners. The bulletin specifies a quarter-inch of travel in one direction only, and the assemblies in question must move freely through that quarter-inch of travel (as opposed to locking in position, for example).
Those areas can now be looked at during post-race inspection, whereas they apparently were not before.
"We are just reminding the teams what the limitations are and that they cannot go past these limitations," Darby said.
Brad Keselowski, who had been outspoken about what Hendrick was doing with the rear ends of their cars, compared the technical bulletin to the NBA clarifying how it enforces a traveling call.
"You can make a rule saying traveling is illegal, but it's how it's enforced that really matters," he said. "If it's not (enforced) on LeBron and is on everyone else, it makes for a different game. I think the real challenge is how things are enforced and not what's written down on paper."
But as Keselowski noted, it's "way too early to say" if one car lost an advantage or another car gained one. Whatever happens, it could determine how much speed the top cars possess – and it could change the complexion of the Chase.
"It's something that's got to play out," he said, "but it certainly has my attention."
– Material from the NASCAR Wire Service was used in this story