NASCAR Sonoma afternoon report

With Coors Light Pole Qualifying the only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series session, it’s been something of a quiet day. I spent a fair amount of time in the garage area after qualifying as the teams converted their cars from qualifying to race setups.

One of the major discussion points here this weekend has been the aero package to be run at Kentucky. Paul Wolfe, crew chief of the #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford driver by Brad Keselowski, was nice enough to spend a few minutes sharing his thoughts on the matter with me.

Wolfe understands that NASCAR is making the move to improve the quality of the racing. His concern is that they will race the new aero package on the 2015 spec-tire at Kentucky. While they are testing the new package at Darlington Tuesday, they are also a new tire, and not the tire they will be running at Kentucky. And Wolfe said the concern centered around the rather large difference in downforce between the two packages.

I also caught up with Slugger Labbe, crew chief of the #3 Dow Chevrolet driven by Austin Dillon. Labbe credited NASCAR for often listening to the fans when it came to making changes. However, he also noted that this change was more driver-driven than fan-driven. Citing a test at Michigan last year in which 7 different aero packages were tested, Labbe says he thinks the new package will produce better racing.

Also, while NASCAR has insisted the Kentucky aero package is not experimental so to speak, the general impression is that it sort of is. Labbe didn't use those words mind you but did say that the package might represent a significant step in how things are doing going forward.

As for the tire, Labbe agreed with Wolfe that it was a concern. He noted that he wished Goodyear "had more time to react" and said that if something goes wrong Goodyear will unfairly get the blame.

Now, what might happen after Kentucky?

NASCAR of course plans to evaluate the new package during the race, then make changes accordingly. If they decide to permanently enact any rule changes it will likely be before The Chase. And they want to have a shakedown session before they make any changes that affect The Chase.

Brian C. reporting from Sonoma

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