Short-Track Package Improvements Earn Praise from NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell

With the new short-track package Martin Truex Jr raced to fifth-place in Stage 1 after starting from the rear due to an engine change on Sunday, March 8, 2020.
Martin Truex Jr. moved up to the fifth place at the end of Stage 1 after starting at the rear in the NASCAR Cup Series FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway. Photo – Chris Graythen/Getty Images

NASCAR’s Short-Track package and the PJ1 allows drivers to make passes at Phoenix

Sunday’s FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway passed not only the eye test but also the statistical test, as far as the quality of racing was concerned.

With the NASCAR Cup Series car featuring a significantly smaller spoiler and modifications to the oil pan and splitter, the resulting reduction in downforce produced far more competitive racing than fans witnessed in two Phoenix events last year.

There were 20 lead changes among seven drivers on a track that featured a more liberal application of traction compound in the corners, as NASCAR worked to make the 2020 short-track package as compelling as possible.

“You certainly want to see a lot of what we saw today—a lot of different lead changes,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president, and chief racing development officer. “And this comes from a lot of work from the entire industry, going back to Nashville (in the postseason), everybody getting together and talking about what could we collectively do…

“We saw a lot of different things happen during the race and emotions run pretty high, which is what you want, and a lot of comers and goers—and ultimately a really good race.”

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