NASCAR, manufacturers talk tech at Detroit auto show

NASCAR, manufacturers and teams have collaborated to make a handful of changes to their cars for the coming season, and though many of the tweaks may be small — they could wind up paying big dividends. Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development, said cars will be closer to the ground at all but the fastest of tracks the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits. He was among the panelists for Wednesday's Tech Talk forum at Cobo Center, home of the 2014 North American International Auto Show. Other changes include a steeper rear spoiler, squaring of the front splitter and slightly higher trim of the rear fascia, but Stefanyshyn said those alterations probably will be harder to spot.

The lack of severe changes comes a year after the series began running the Gen-6 race car, the result of a collaboration between NASCAR and the three manufacturers that field NASCAR Sprint Cup cars. Jamie Allison of Ford Racing, David Wilson of Toyota Racing Development and Jim Campbell of Chevy Performance Vehicles and Motorsport also were panelists, and all three said that sense of collaboration still exists — even though all three nameplates want to be first to the checkered flag.

Two of the most enlightening tidbits from the discussion included Allison noting that a lack of testing time means simulators are used more and more to prepare cars for different tracks. In many cases, he said, the driver's first time in the car on a new track is with a setup prepared with extensive computer help.

A variety of metrics, Stefanyshyn added, also are used to measure the flow and general competitiveness of a race. A variety of factors, including the number of passes for the lead and the distance between the first and fifth, 10th or 15th cars in the running order, are among the factors NASCAR uses to grade the overall entertainment factor in a race. NASCAR Wire Service

Leave a Reply