CONCORD, N.C. – A quartet of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers shook down Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval in a Goodyear tire test on Tuesday.
Erik Jones, William Byron, Daniel Hemric and Cup Series title contender Aric Almirola previewed NASCAR’s 2019 rules package – a form of which debuted in May’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race and Monster Energy Open at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Among the changes to the rules package for next year are an eight-inch by 61-inch rear spoiler, a 37-inch-wide radiator pan that tapers to 31 inches and a front splitter with a two-inch overhang.
“This package has even more power,” Jones said. “I don’t think we’ll be close to wide open once we get rolling. It depends on how much you need to trim it out. We’ve tried some stuff where you can gain some easy speed – three or four tenths of a second – but we don’t really know yet how that’s going to affect you in a pack. We’ve got 100 more horsepower now and a little bit more downforce (than the original All-Star package).”
Byron, the leader in the race for Rookie of the Year, said the new package should offer fun racing for drivers.
“The biggest difference is you’re accelerating into a corner, which is a different feel for most of us,” Byron said. “Other than that, I feel like guys can figure it out pretty soon. (This package) is more about precision with how you’re around guys and how you make moves. It’s still racing, it’s the same race car and you’ll have to do the same things to go fast.”
Hemric, the NASCAR Xfinity Series points leader and a native of nearby Kannapolis, N.C., made laps around his home track in his fourth tour in a Cup Series car.
“I feel like that with the tire we’re on and the package we’re driving, the speed sensation is still there and they’ve done a good job with this package,” said Hemric, who will drive Richard Childress Racing’s No. 31 Chevrolet next season. “I’m looking forward to seeing how the speeds change when we’re in a draft. … Your corner entry points are pretty much the same. Once we get some more laps in, we’ll get a better idea, but we’re pretty happy with it so far.
“We’re finding little things that matter. There’s risk versus reward with how much speed you want to gain versus how much better you want it to drive.”
The new rules package will debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Feb. 24. Atlanta will also host a Goodyear tire test on Tuesday, Oct. 30.