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Shifting Stays…for Now: NASCAR NOT Testing a Transaxle at Phoenix

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

NASCAR will not be testing the new transaxle at Phoenix Raceway this week. According to a thread by Diandra on Twitter, NASCAR decided that it would take too long to change the transaxle and that drivers claimed that the transaxle would not make a major difference.

You Need to know:

  • Further down Diandra’s Twitter thread, both Ryan Blaney and NASCAR’s VP of Vehicle Performance, Eric Jacuzzi commented on the decision. Jacuzzi admitted that he would like to test longer and with more cars, but both financially and time-wise, it was not possible. Blaney, on the other hand, added that he is okay with testing in the off-season.
  • The new transaxle was aimed at eliminating shifting on short tracks. Steve O’Donnell mentioned during the “State of the Sport” address that they were looking at shifting and a new aero package before adding horsepower. Steve Phelps has echoed that sentiment throughout the offseason.
  • Fans on social media have groaned about some of NASCAR’s potential solutions to shifting on short tracks. Now, it seems NASCAR’s original plan to tackle it is gone.

Where Does NASCAR Go From Here?

NASCAR cannot test one of the major things they hoped to. That’s not the result they were hoping for. If NASCAR wants to eliminate shifting on short tracks, they may need to go back to the drawing board. It all depends on how the rest of the test ends up.

Bob Pockrass reported that NASCAR was looking at black flagging drivers who shift. The fans were not a fan of this idea as you can read in the article below.

Could this motivate NASCAR to add horsepower to the cars? Maybe it will, especially given the drivers and engineers said the transaxle would not work at the speeds they were running. However, NASCAR seems committed to doing anything but adding horsepower to the current race cars.

Reasons for Optimism

This news does not mean the test has been a total failure. Ryan Blaney had this to say to Cole Cusumano about a new splitter following day one.

We unloaded exactly like we were here in the fall with this car. Ran a couple of hours on it, then did the different splitter, big difference…There’s so much downforce taken off with [the new splitter].

Ryan Blaney

It seems progress is being made to this point with the aero changes NASCAR is making. NASCAR also tried a new splitter at a test at Richmond in the summer, but, those results were not as good. In that regard, things seem to have improved from the summer.

Erik Jones also commented on the test, but he talked about the tires to Cusumano following the test.

Of all the tires I’ve tested over my career, by far, probably today was the biggest I’ve noticed a difference.

Erik Jones

It seems progress is being made on the tires based on the ones used at Martinsville, which is a good thing. The Martinsville race tire laid down rubber, which improved the racing product. In that sense, there is more reason for optimism.

Despite the transaxle not being tested, there have been other good results coming out of the Phoenix short-track test. Will it be enough to improve the short track product like it was hoped?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts