NASCAR’s new low down force package in force for 2016 made its debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday. NASCAR announced prior to the season that the package will be campaigned the entire NASCAR Sprint Cup season NASCAR’s tracks with the exception of Daytona and Talladega. The package had been raced last year at Darlington and Kentucky Speedway, and the results met with approval from drivers, fans and NASCAR officials.
Sunday the new package debut for its first race of 2016. It had been tested last month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway but Sunday was the first use of the configuration in combination with softer tires that led to more slipping and sliding and tire wear. There had been several spins during practice but during Sunday’s race there appeared to be no major issues and a great deal more passing, at least behind the leaders. Kevin Harvick led a race high 131 laps, but Jimmie Johnson took the lead 40 laps from the end and won. An interesting tidbit was the lack of crashes. There were only two cautions, one for debris that didn’t come until lap 210. Ryan Newman got a flat tire late and the last lap of the race saw a multicar crash behind the leaders. For the most part however the racing was clean and two and three wide races could be seen all through the field.
After it was over the drivers seemed to be universally in agreement that the new package was great. Chief among them was Dale Earnhardt Jr. who beat Kyle Busch to the line to finish second.
“I loved it,” Earnhardt said.