I ranted and raved on the high-downforce package many, many times last season. I said it produced a great race, last Sunday at Homestead. I thought Las Vegas would give us a typical high-downforce race.
SPOILER ALERT, it didn’t.
I don’t get this package, anymore.
The White Zone: The high-downforce package is an enigma
Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 subverted many of the facets that we’ve witnessed with the NAD18 package. Multiple times, deep into a run, the race leader lost the lead. And not just once or twice, I counted roughly 13 lead changes that happened on-track, outside of a restart. And that’s before I lost track of the lead changes, due to the final round of stops.
In fact, here’s a telling stat on just the first stage, alone, from NASCAR PR man and stats guru, Mike Forde.
Unofficial, but data showing that there were a whopping 35 green flag passes for the lead in that first stage (lead changes all around the track).
Last year's two full Las Vegas races had totals of 37 and 26. #NASCAR
— Mike Forde (@mforde) March 7, 2021
This goes against the past trends, in which passing the race leader outside of a restart was a Herculean task. In fact, on the second restart, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson raced side-by-side-by-side for multiple laps, for the race lead.
I can’t recall a time in any high-downforce package race where this happened. Hell, I don’t recall seeing this, outside of a restrictor plate race, ever.
Moreover, the race leader didn’t pull away from the field. Except for once, when Larson cycled back to the lead towards the end of the second stage, but that followed a green flag pit cycle.
Last Sunday, I chalked up the subversion of the high-downforce package’s trends to the ultra-aged surface of Homestead-Miami Speedway. And while Last Vegas Motor Speedway’s surface isn’t exactly young, it’s hosted typical high-downforce package races in the last two years.
I jokingly tweeted during the race that this race was tailor-made by someone at NASCAR to make me eat crow. Honestly, if this continues, I might just do so.
That’s my view, for what it’s worth.
TOP IMAGE: Abbie Parr/Getty Images