Carl Edwards Excited About Kentucky, Michigan Rules Changes

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor

Carl Edwards has been a big proponent of the lower downforce package that NASCAR has adopted so far in 2016, and has continued to push for NASCAR to go even further.

Now, they have.

After making changes to the lower downforce package at the beginning of this season, NASCAR has announced that the upcoming races at Kentucky Speedway and Michigan International Speedway will include changes that are expected to reduce aerodynamic downforce even more. These changes will include a reduction in spoiler height and a splitter reduction, in addition to changes that have been made in recent weeks.

As of now, the change in spoiler, splitter and rear deck fin sizes and heights are only scheduled for the Kentucky and Michigan races.

It doesn’t matter. Edwards is still pumped up about it.

“It’s all right there, the proof is there, all year we’ve had awesome racing and we have close finishes,” said Edwards. “I mean, yeah things didn’t go exactly as planned at the All-Star event, but that was a new format and a lot of unforeseen things happened, but the racing on the track was good and it’s been good all year. I already sent Steve O’Donnell (NASCAR) a thank you text. I’m so excited about the things that are coming at Kentucky and Michigan. NASCAR is doing what it takes, the teams are doing what it takes to go out and figure out how to make this the best racing it can be. This is going to be a blast. These cars, I’m telling you, when you drive them sideways at 200 mph and you’re closing on people and you’re able to pressure them and race like that, that’s as good as it gets. I’m very excited about Michigan and Kentucky, it’s like Christmas for me.”

Edwards isn’t the only one who feels the racing has been closer. A large majority of fans, media, and drivers agree that the racing in 2016 has seen a vast improvement over the racing quality of 2015 and even before that.

“I think we look at it as a never-ending journey; if we can improve we’re going to do that,” NASCAR executive vice president of competition and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said in a statement. “We wanted to go the direction of low downforce, see how that worked, not kind of go all the way in and hope that we are directionally right. And we are seeing that play out. We’ve seen some great racing at the beginning of the year. But we also knew that we had some more levers that we could pull if the direction kind of proved out, so we’ve tried some of those things. We’ve tested it and what we’ve also wanted to do is lower some of the corner speeds to allow for even more passing. That was one of the areas where we’ve seen minimal change, but there are some levers we can pull to really drive that down.”

If you’ll recall, NASCAR had a “test run” for this year’s downforce package at Kentucky last year in addition to the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. For those races, Edwards was arguably the loudest voice for NASCAR to continue to head in that direction.

Now that they have and are continuing to adjust the rules to continue to make the racing as exciting as possible (and keep it that way), Edwards is convinced that NASCAR is headed in the right direction.

“I’m really happy with the way things are going, but I think its NASCAR’s job to run this sport the best that they can and they’ve done a really good job over the last 50 or 60 years,” said Edwards. “They’ve made this into what it is so a healthy dose of skepticism when a bunch of drivers come and tell you what they want probably serves them well. Right now, literally, I can go to anyone at NASCAR – Mike Helton or Brian (France) or Steve O’Donnell whether it’s through the council, I can go talk to them and there’s a lot of communication back and forth. It doesn’t mean we don’t get just as many penalties or black flags or whatever, the competition is still the competition, but it’s pretty neat right now that everyone wants to make the racing the absolute best it can be and people are listening. That’s all you can hope for.”

Kentucky is a 1.5-mile intermedia racetrack while Michigan is a two-mile D-shaped track with a wide racing surface. Kentucky’s low downforce race last year was well received by fans and competitors alike.

The Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway will be Saturday night, July 9th, 2016 at 7:30PM ET. Of Michigan’s two race dates, the race in June will feature the rules changes. The FireKeepers Casino 400 will be Sunday afternoon on June 12th, 2016 at 1:00PM ET.

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