NASCAR outlaws the practice of flared fender side skirts

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There’ll be no skirting the issue of side skirts in NASCAR in 2015.

Prior to NASCAR Chairman Brian France’s State of the Sport address Monday afternoon, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell made it very clear that the manipulation of side skirts will not be allowed in 2015.

Several teams pulled out the side skirts in front of the rear wheels – particularly the right “passenger” side of the car – during pit stops last season to achieve what they believed might be a slight aerodynamic benefit, essentially turning the side skirts into a type of fender flare.

The action was typically done on the first pit stop of a race because a car has to have the side skirts straight and in conformity with NASCAR templates and rules during pre-race inspection.

The practice was used by only a few teams initially, but became more commonplace later in the season – particularly during the Chase for the Sprint Cup – as teams believed the flared side skirts allowed for better airflow, particularly over the rear of the car.

NASCAR did not stop the practice last season, but promised a review during the offseason. That review is now complete and flaring of side skirts will not be allowed in 2015.

Here’s what O’Donnell had to say about the new rule prohibiting the side skirt manipulation practice:

It was a much-discussed topic from last year, side skirts. As many of you know, we deliberately decided against any changes near the end of last season.

So in 2015, teams manipulating the fenders or flares during a race will be asked to come back down pit road (to essentially un-flare the side skirts) and we’ll use any means possible to police that, particularly our new pit road officiating system.

We’ll look at that through video and any means possible during the race season.”

O’Donnell did not discuss what, if any penalties will result against teams that violate the new rule

The practice and subsequent new rule against it came after NASCAR consulted with many teams.

“One important note is we looked a lot with our race teams, to talk about what was the best way to do that, and this is where we landed heading into the 2015 season,” O’Donnell said. “We continue to work towards a goal of fair, tight competition, offering our fans the best racing in the world and all of our expectations for competition heading into the Daytona 500 are that it’ll be even better this year.

“We’re not going to rest for 2015, ‘16 or ‘17, but we look forward to continued progress towards that best racing.”

After O’Donnell’s speech, NASCAR Executive Vice President of Competition, Robin Pemberton gave additional clarity to the new rule:

The adjustment on the side skirts and body side, there’s many opinions on it and there’s not really consensus, but when you look at what that is for and that is to change the aerodynamic balance of the car.

We know when we go to Goodyear tire tests that the cars aren’t tested in that way. That is not something that is modeled in any way shape or form or tested.

To be correct with the entire garage area and all of our vendors and suppliers and other people we work with, it’s best to just regulate and keep it in as in the box as we can.”

Pemberton was also asked why NASCAR didn’t outlaw the practice during last season.

“It got to the point where we didn’t feel comfortable with making a change of how we regulated the sport in the middle of the Chase,” Pemberton said. “It’s as simple as that.

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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.