Drivers rarely agree, and yet almost universally they continue to offer enthusiastic praise for the rules package NASCAR implemented for last Saturday's Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.
A low downforce aerodynamic package produced a highly competitive race on what is traditionally one of NASCAR's most stagnant venues. The lead was exchanged a track-record 22 times and 1,518 more green flag passes occurred throughout the field than in last year's race.
"I had more fun in that race at Kentucky than I've had at any mile and a half (track) in years," Carl Edwards said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "To me, if some is good then more is better. We should continue down that path in my opinion."
NASCAR introduced the package, featuring a smaller rear spoiler making the cars harder to control and drivers fighting nearly every lap to maintain control, specifically for Kentucky. Greg Biffle was among those encouraged by the racing, calling it, "one of the best races that I've been in, in a long time." He was enthused because drivers weren't slowed by dirty air and could run in multiple grooves.
"I'm game for all the changes they're doing," Biffle said. "All I have to say that from the driver's point of view, just from being behind the wheel at Kentucky, was probably because we were able to do things we couldn't do with the car before."
A high drag package is planned for upcoming races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway. That package is designed to stimulate drafting and pack racing, something NASCAR officials want to see more of on intermediate sized tracks like Kentucky.
But whether it's needed on speedways outside of restrictor-plate tracks NASCAR and drivers differ. NASCAR sees drafting as a way to ensure races have a substantial amount of passing and excitement, while drivers would prefer to have a package where that doesn't require running in multi-car packs -- like what happens at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
"As far as the physics of being able to have stock car racing like that and to have pack race or drafting, I don't think that's possible." Edwards said. "I think they're two completely different things. I think we have plenty of pack racing in my opinion in this sport with the four race that we have that are like that. I think we should stay as far away from that at the other tracks as possible."
Sunday's race at New Hampshire will utilize the rules package introduced prior to the season. As for what setup teams will race when the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs begin mid-September, no decision has been made.
A three-day test where drivers practiced with various packages was held earlier this week at Chicagoland Speedway, the site of the Chase opener. And the results were mixed. When the Kentucky package was tried, tires began blistering and coming apart after 25 laps, according to Biffle.
With the Chase not beginning until Sept. 20 and teams needing about a month's notice to prepare, NASCAR has time before teams need to know what package is to be raced at Chicagoland. But the juggling between what is now three different rules packages does make it challenging on all involved.
"It's hard for us considering the position we're in as a team to manage that moving target," Biffle said. "But, at the same time, we understand that this is changing around."
Said Edwards: "I have no idea what they're going to do for Chicago. If it were my sport, you just cut the splitters completely off and the spoilers completely off of them and just go race. That's what I would do."