CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR received favorable driver reviews about the switch from a wing to the traditional spoiler.
NASCAR opened a rare two-day test session Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway for teams to get their first extended track time with the spoiler, which will return to competition for the first time since 2007 at this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway.
“It was a very important day for us, and I felt like it went really well,” said four-time series champion Jeff Gordon. “I liked the way the cars looked with the spoiler, and the cars drove really well. All in all, it was a great day for us and we certainly gathered a lot of data.”
The rear wing was a component of NASCAR’s current model of race car that was phased into competition in 2007. Fans disliked the look of it, and drivers listed it among their dislikes of the car.
“We had reasons to go to the wing. Some of those might not have panned out, ” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president for competition. “Quite frankly, no one really warmed up to it. They didn’t like it, they didn’t like the appearance of it. They didn’t embrace it.”
NASCAR decided during the offseason to go back to the spoiler, partly in a hope that it improves competition. Martinsville, the sixth race of the season, was the earliest the change could be made because of all the planning involved in such a technical change to a race car.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. believes switching back to the spoiler, which was last used in the 2007 finale at Homestead, will be beneficial to most drivers because they have vast experience with it.
“The racing really should look about the same, and I think the races have been pretty good this year. If anything, it definitely will not hurt it,” Earnhardt said. “The spoiler always worked pretty well and did a pretty good job, and they’ve got a lot of information from the spoiler over the years. So we all kind of know how the spoiler works.
“We don’t really know the wing that well, and NASCAR doesn’t know the wing that well. There wasn’t a lot of effort to really manipulate the wing to see if it could change the way the racing was. We can with the spoiler because we know so much about it over the last 30 years.”
NASCAR had 93 races with the spoiler, and four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson led all drivers with 22 victories. Whether the switch affects Johnson, who has won three of the first five races this season, remains to be seen.
“I wouldn’t say that is going to change Jimmie Johnson, but maybe it’ll slow him down,” Kasey Kahne said. “Who knows? Everybody is definitely trying hard.”