2015 Sprint Cup rules to feature reduced testing, less horsepower

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As expected, NASCAR has released its 2015 Sprint Cup rules package to teams today. And as expected, it contains some major changes.

At the top of the list are a ban on private team testing at any tracks following the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and a reduction in horsepower from 850-900 down to 725 with the use of a tapered spacer (which is already used in the Nationwide Series).

Additionally, the rear spoiler will be cut to six inches, giving drivers less downforce to work with on their cars.

In regards to testing, Goodyear will work with NASCAR and the Sprint Cup teams to select tracks for tire test sessions. Also, the “Preseason Thunder” sessions at Daytona International Speedway have been eliminated.

“The teams have asked for more productive sessions with all of us included,” O’Donnell told USA Today writer and NASCAR on NBC contributor Nate Ryan. “If we can have NASCAR, Goodyear and the race teams all together, it’ll be a home run.

“The second part is anytime you can minimize costs, that’s big. We think we’ve done both.”

The rules package comes after teams tested various aero configurations and power levels last month at Michigan International Speedway.

Drivers that took part in the Michigan session said they preferred a configuration with less downforce but retained the current 850-900 horsepower. It appears that those drivers will get some of what they wanted (the downforce part), but not all (current-level or additional horsepower).

However, O’Donnell thinks the new package will lead to what NASCAR’s been going after for some time now: A better on-track product on its 1.5-to-2-mile, intermediate ovals.

“We believe what will contribute to better racing is the ability to get off the gas in the corners,” O’Donnell said to Ryan. “If you’re able to slow down the straightaway speeds a bit, but really affect the speeds in the corners – where drivers have to make decisions on how much they want to get off the throttle – it allows for more passing in the turns, and it allows for tire manufacturer to really march toward a grippier tire.

“That will contribute to even better racing.”

Other changes on tap for 2015 include:

  • The addition of rain tires for Sprint Cup road course events with mandatory wipers, defogger and rear flashing rain light at the start of those events
  • An option to have a panhard bar in the cockpit to allow drivers to make suspension adjustments
  • A new video system for officiating in the pits that will have officials analyze cameras and software (some officials will still be in the pits for team communication purposes)
  • An online rule-book for teams with computer animation and 3-D illustrations

A full list of the 2015 changes can be found here.

Today’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA will have more details on the 2015 rules package. You can watch it today at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra for your online/mobile device.

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing at Barber

SPOTTER GUIDE: All 29 of this weekend’s paint schemes

IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”