SAN FRANCISCO -- Defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. wasn't surprised that NASCAR decided against changing any of the aerodynamic rules this year amid too much uncertainty as to the on-track results the changes would deliver combined with potential cost of implementing the changes during the season.
NASCAR announced Thursday morning that it would not implement the aerodynamic package used at the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte in May in any NASCAR Cup Series points races this year. After the exhibition race enthused the fan base, NASCAR indicated it would look at using the package - one that slows the cars down by the use of restrictor plates that limit air flow through the engine as well as aero ducts in the front of the car that push air out through front wheel wells - for up to three points races this year.
"We had a lot of detailed conversations, but in the end, we all felt like the best thing to do was to put some additional effort into some potential tweaks and focus on 2019 versus a race or two this season," NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell told NASCAR.com.
It pretty much comes down to being pragmatic at a time when declining ratings and attendance have many in the industry as well as a number of fans clamoring for immediate changes to reinvigorate the sport.
"Everybody is trying to figure out what the right button to push is," Truex said during a luncheon Thursday to promote Sunday's race at Sonoma Raceway. "If we race the all-star package the next 15 races, how much would that really change things?
"We don't know. Nobody knows. The approach they're taking is the right one -- let's not overreact, let's not jump the gun and do something that actually sets us back."
At least a few team owners were willing to use the package in a couple events but there were concerns about the six-figure costs that would likely accompany the different engine parameters, not to mention any research and development.
"We're probably going to need to do some tweaking on it for other tracks," Truex said. "I don't know that it is smart to just throw it out there this year because the teams have worked so hard on the package that we're running and invested all their resources and money into getting this year's car sorted out as much as possible.
"From the team standpoint, it was just too expensive to make the change at this point in time. ... Budgets are set. Cars are built. The money is already spent."
The Xfinity Series used the package at Indianapolis last year, and it made for a better race. It also used it at Pocono and Michigan this year with arguably better results at Michigan.
Many drivers had come out against using the package, citing that the drafting and sling-shot passing the package is designed for doesn't necessarily reward the typical driver talent as the cars are running pretty much the same speed and, depending on the track, the drivers rarely lift off the throttle.
NASCAR had been toying with the idea of using the package in upcoming Cup races at Kentucky, Pocono, Michigan and/or Indy. The drivers council that advises NASCAR talked with executives about potential tweaks to the package at their meeting two weeks ago.
"We need to challenge the drivers, make the best drivers shine, but we also need to change maybe the way the racing is a bit towards that all-star package," said Truex, a member of the council. "So I think that's part of the step back.
"We've got to figure this out, and when we roll it out, it's got to be right. We can't roll it out and everyone is like, 'What is this? This isn't what they sold us.' It's more difficult than people think it is."