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.

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

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While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

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