The White Zone: The high-downforce package is a joke

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JULY 05: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88'sPolishes Chevrolet, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 05, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Who are these 80 percent of fans who say they like the high-downforce package?

How do you look at Sunday’s Brickyard 400 and say with a straight face that this is good racing?

NASCAR’s annual trek to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was yet another display of what’s wrong with the high-downforce package that NASCAR stubbornly defends.

There were three, count it, THREE on-track lead changes. Two happened on a restart, one was a result of William Byron‘s left-front tire failure and the last happened when Denny Hamlin‘s right-front blew out. The others happened during pit stops under caution and under green.

After two or three laps, there was no catching the race leader. Often, just as Chase Elliott did, he would pull to a multi-second lead over the driver in second.

Before Alex Bowman‘s right-front tire blowout and wall hit brought out a caution with 27 laps to go, Hamlin’s overtake on Kevin Harvick didn’t happen on-track. Rather, it happened due to a slower stop on Harvick’s end. Thus, Hamlin passed him, as he exited pit road.

Even as Harvick clearly had the faster car in the final 20 laps, he couldn’t make the winning overtake, until Hamlin’s right-front tire blew out.

Basically, if not for yet another tire debacle at Indianapolis, Hamlin probably wins this with ease.

Who are you trying to fool, NASCAR? Who in all seriousness still thinks this package is working? Do we need to have a repeat of Phoenix Raceway last November for this package to die, completely?

Alas, my readers, I can guess what’s going to happen. Someone from NASCAR — either NASCAR’s Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, Steve O’Donnell, or Senior Vice President of Competition, Scott Miller — will go onto “The Morning Drive” on Monday and spin why it was actually “good,” and not a damn thing will change.

Let’s just be grateful that the championship race will happen at a track that runs the low-downforce package.

That’s my view, for what it’s worth.

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I've been a fan of NASCAR since I was five years old. My passion for it, and auto racing in general, inspired me to pursue a career in it. For four years, I covered NASCAR and IndyCar for I'm currently studying at the University of Tennessee to pursue a career in sports writing. As a student at the University of Tennessee, and a native of Knoxville, Tenn., I'm a diehard fan of Tennessee Volunteers football. If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me one day, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a fan of the Atlanta Braves, the Nashville Predators and the NFL. Outside of sports, I watch anime, read manga and watch a lot of films.



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