Skip to main content

Denny Hamlin has two solutions to fix NASCAR Cup on short tracks

denny hamlin
Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Denny Hamlin isn’t feeling particularly optimistic about the current state of the Cup Series on short tracks and says those feeling are not likely to change until NASCAR makes one of two technical reconfigurations.

It’s either increase horsepower or decrease grip.

As part of the 2024 schedule reveal, the 7/8th-mile Iowa Speedway will make its Cup Series debut next summer but these are the types of tracks the second year NextGen car has seldom produced compelling races at.

On the other hand, Iowa is unique in that it is nearly a mile and has progressive banking, which provides it more intermediate track characteristics than those like Martinsville, North Wilkesboro or Richmond. With that said, Hamlin said it won’t matter if something doesn’t change with the rules package.

“I don’t think it will be different than any other short track unless something changes,” Hamlin told Sportsnaut on Thursday. “Obviously, we’ve learned through testing that aerodynamics is not a factor on short tracks.

“It either has to come from grip or (power) to make those tracks better in the future.”

Denny Hamlin diagnoses issue

The problem with the NextGen is that it’s a heavier car with less horsepower than its predecessor. It make more grip with its wider tires and has a sealed underbody. Due to the decreased horsepower, drivers are both shifting in the corners but also not burning up their tires on throttle.

The car generates a tremendous amount of aero push on single lane flat tracks, including road courses, but Hamlin is convinced its more a lack of power and abundance of grip than anything else.

“I’m just not going to put a whole lot of this on the car,” Hamlin said. “We’ve continued to cut horsepower. The grip on the car at short tracks is a byproduct of having wider tires and less horsepower. In a cost cutting measure, we’ve continued to cut horsepower which has led to shifting and it’s led to less power and more grip on the short tracks, which has made the racing bad.”

NASCAR has attempted to correct this by removing rear spoiler and the rear diffuser strakes from the underbody. It also tested a ‘lift splitter’ that created lift for a leading car in traffic but none of that produced the intended results.

“We can fiddle with the car and aerodynamics until we spend all the millions of dollars in our pockets but it’s not going to change it until you change either the grip or the power under the hood,” Hamlin added.

Hamlin also says he has heard of no such changes coming to the competition package for next season.

“I haven’t heard anything,” Hamlin said. “There is a competition meeting this weekend for the drivers but honestly, I’m not totally up to date on what might be coming down the pipeline.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: