NASCAR’s vice president of competition Scott Miller says that the series is encouraged by the quality of racing produced by the new rules package based on Sunday’s Cup race at Fontana.
Sunday’s race was only the second time the full version of the new rules package was in play. Teams were choked back to 550 horsepower and required to use larger splitters and spoilers as well as aero ducts.
“When we look back at all the metrics, all the things we measure, we’ve definitely seen an uptick in passing – quality passes and passes for the lead,” said Miller during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“That’s been across the board. We would like for it to have moved the needle a little bit more in those metrics, but certainly from the eye test in the tower, Kyle … put the bit between his teeth and pretty much dominated that [Cup] race over the weekend. We’ve had compelling and closely contested races for the win so far with the package. We’ve been happy with it.”
There were 18 lead changes among eight drivers on Sunday afternoon. Last season, the Auto Club 400 had 16 lead changes between seven drivers. However Sunday’s tally of 2,956 green flag passes fell short of last year’s count of 3,399.
Two weeks ago, Las Vegas produced a track record number of green flag passes for the lead, as well as overall green flag passes. This year’s Atlanta race also had more passes for the lead, and more quality passes than its 2018 counterpart.
“These things take a long time to work out,” Miller said, acknowledging it’s premature to judge the package just a few races in. “It will be interesting to see how it develops as the teams perfect the way that they set their cars up, and use the package at the different race tracks.
“[There was a] huge swing in downforce from last year, and one of the things that says to us is [that] our racing and our teams are very good, and our drivers are very good. This package is way different than the one that preceded it, but the same teams are excelling – which would be the case if we were racing little red wagons, or anything else. The best teams and the best pilots will … consistently run up front.”