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The White Zone: This new package has delivered more of the same

On Oct. 2, 2018, NASCAR announced the aerodynamic package for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. It was a package that, in the words of NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell, was “a focus on getting back to a true focus on the drivers and what NASCAR is all about — close side-by-side racing and trying to deliver more of that.”

From the tire test at Auto Club Speedway in January and the organizational test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in February, the package looked promising.

After five races and four with the new package (including two with the full package), it’s been more of the same.

The racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway was what I expect from Atlanta. The racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was what I expect from Las Vegas. So on for ISM Raceway and Fontana.

The restarts and the first five laps after are dicier this season. The leader, however, still has an exponential advantage in clean air. While it’s much easier to draft with someone, tire wear makes it a Herculean task to pass — especially five or more laps after a restart — thanks to the increase in dirty air.

Furthermore, the increased downforce and lower speeds have led to more on-throttle time, which glues the cars to the ground. We’ve seen cleaner races (in terms of the amount of cautions for wrecks). Other than Atlanta, where the tire management played a greater role, it’s easier for the race leader to pull away from the field. And even at Atlanta, there were times when the leader just drove a few seconds ahead of second.

It’s just been more of the same.

It’s hard not to feel let down, given the hype built up around this package over the offseason, particularly by NASCAR.

“We want cars close together, we don’t want people falling off and going laps down, we don’t want people checking out,” NASCAR Vice President of Development and Innovation John Probst said during the Las Vegas test.

“I think the rule package was put in place because we want to have the most competitive racing we can,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November. “We believe the 2019 rules package is just exactly that.

These quotes, along with the aforementioned quote from O’Donnell at the top of the article, indicate that the big wigs at NASCAR expected closer, side-by-side, more competitive racing.

This package, so far, has been more of the same.

Maybe I could be wrong in a few weeks or a few months. Maybe by then, NASCAR will have tweaked the package to prevent a lost season. And maybe then, I’ll keep to the promise I made a few months back and personally tell Phelps that I was wrong.

SEE ALSO: The White Zone: The light at tunnel’s end is growing dimmer

Furthermore, the increase in TV ratings in four of five races this season has quelled my fears — for now — that the sport is in trouble if this package fails.

I’m not ready to say this package is a failure. For now, however, it’s just been more of the same.

That’s my view, for what it’s worth.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."


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