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.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”