A few weeks ago, NASCAR officials held a meeting with the drivers and "asked" that they refrain from dissing the new Sprint Cup car in front of the press. It was widely known as the "shut up and drive" meeting. As we saw from Sunday's race, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, "shut up and drive" didn't seem to help the car at all, and may have hurt NASCAR's image some.
Now it isn't the drivers that are complaining about the car, having dutifully conformed to the sanctioning body's wishes, but it is the fans and the sports journalists who see the car as a disaster.
The 2008 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard woke somebody up, it seems. According to reports on ESPN's NASCAR Now, both Mike Helton and Competition Director Robin Pemberton seemed to indicate Tuesday that they would consider a wider tire for the Sprint Cup Car. The wider tire would require a change in the body style of the new car, something NASCAR has previously said wouldn't happen.
Wider wheels on the car would help, as it would give the tires a bigger footprint on the track, which would mean more traction with a harder compound, and it would reduce the "billowing" effect on the sidewalls.
A New York Times article seems to confirm that NASCAR officials are considering changes:
“The fans didn’t get what they exactly wanted, and we’ll do everything in our power and it won’t happen again, I can tell you that much,” Pemberton said in a conference call. “So we’re going to put a lot of effort towards it and get a better plan moving forward.” (read entire article)
On this blog, we have suggested before that NASCAR should allow the teams a little more leeway in adjustments, and in finding ways to make the car work better with the tires they are given. More testing is needed, and Pemberton has indicated that there would be more testing in the future. However, NASCAR has also said that they will not add any additional open testing to the schedule this year.
So, it seems, things will get better, and nothing like what happened at IMS Sunday will happen again. We will just have to wait until the off season to get a view of what changes will be made for next year.