NASCAR issues new safety rules, confirms low downforce aero package for Michigan

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 16:  Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 16: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

NASCAR competition officials announced Thursday morning several rules changes that feature safety enhancements for cars at Talladega and Daytona for next season and revealed that the Sprint Cup Series’ Aug. 28 race at Michigan International Speedway will have an additional, final test of the provisional 2017 aerodynamics rules package.

A rules bulletin sent to teams Thursday detailed the safety measures, which affect the front firewall and foot box areas, rear roll cage area behind the driver and along the left side door area of the driver’s compartment. These areas are referred to as anti-intrusion panels. The thickness of the pieces has been increased for more strength and to allow each to have stronger welds, according to officials.

The structural changes strengthen the interior area of the car surrounding the driver and lessen the movement of items in the event of an impact.

The reduced downforce setup for Michigan will mirror the one used in the series’ June 12 race at the 2-mile oval. NASCAR’s top division also used different forms of the package during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and the Cup series’ race at Kentucky Speedway earlier this month. That race was to be the final test for the 2017 base package. However, after that race, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, Scott Miller left the door open for additional tests.  He stressed though that any further testing or aero changes wouldn’t happen during the final 10 races that make up the Chase.

The new package has a smaller rear spoiler, down 1 inch to a 2.5-inch height, and the removal of rear-axle offset or “skew.” Those adjustments — combined with modifications to cooling fans, the front splitter and the rear-deck fin limit the effects of downforce and side force on the cars.  The idea is to favor driver control over an overly stabilized car in an effort to promote passing and side-by-side racing.

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