Effect of high-downforce at Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Sept. 6: Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 6, 2020 in Darlington, S.C. Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Saturday, Darlington Raceway provided the slipping and sliding that comes with a worn out surface. Sunday, however, high-downforce negated much of it.

The Cook Out Southern 500 featured many of the high-downforce aero package’s problems that have been on display time after time after time after time, this season.

Passing the lead car was a Herculean task, as evidenced by the lead changes. Of the 18 lead changes, only three happened on-track; one happened on a restart and two happened in the final 15 laps, thanks to Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr.‘s run-in.

Track position and restarts took more emphasis, than handling and running down the car ahead. And while tire management factored in, it wasn’t as important, Sunday, as it was in Saturday’s XFINITY Series race.

“Tire falloff probably isn’t the biggest thing we think about,” Cole Custer said.

While these were also present at Darlington in May, it wasn’t as pronounced as Sunday.

“Everything has evolved,” Clint Bowyer said. “Everybody gets better and we used that as a practice session. We had two good practice sessions, so everybody is gonna come back and be better, which is gonna tighten the field up, which is gonna make the race, I mean, from a fan’s perspective not as entertaining as it could be.”

Bowyer also touched on the impact that no practice has had on it.

“When you come in and you’re just stabbing at these things and don’t have practices or qualifying or anything else to line it up, it makes a difference,” he said. “When we’ve got to go out there and we have practice sessions and things like that, it tightens the field up and then it becomes about track position and some strategy and things like that.”

It’s a far cry from the low-downforce package used by the XFINITY Series, where handling and performance on-track mattered more than track position.

“You can move around and do a lot of different things and the aero is not too bad in traffic,” Custer said. “You have a lot of motor where there is tire fall off and you can make passes and it’s fun.”

Of course, there’s no indication from the big NASCAR office in Daytona that it’ll do away with the high-downforce package for next season. So for the time being, we’re stuck with this increasingly polarizing package.

Previous articleElliott and Truex collide in closing laps at Darlington
Next articleBubba Wallace leaving RPM at season’s end
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 SpeedwayMedia.com. 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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.