Although Jeff Gordon won Sunday’s race at the Michigan International Speedway to close out the track’s racing season, there was some unfinished business that required a lot more work on Monday.


NASCAR kept nine teams at the track for a day of testing. The goal was to create new rules for 2015 to make cars easier to drive — and create more passing.

No matter what was tried, drivers generally had the same opinion: Passing will increase if the cars are harder to drive.

“To make passing, you have to have tire wear; you have to lift; you have to use the brakes,” driver Brian Vickers said after testing some of NASCAR’s ideas Monday.

Gordon won the pole position at Michigan with a track-record lap of 206.558 mph. He won the race by beating Joey Logano on the final restart and easily pulled away to his third victory of the season.

Like so many races this year, the leader had a distinctive advantage in clean air. NASCAR wants to create more competition by making cars deep in traffic as easy to drive as the lead car.

Ideas tested included strips under the engine to divert air, a taller rear spoiler, different rear gears, less-powerful engines and driver-adjustable track bars for rear-end suspension.

Most of the gadgets didn’t do much to slow the cars or make them more difficult to drive.

“With the extra downforce, I was only a 10th [of a second on each lap] slower than the other way with 200 pounds more downforce,” Danica Patrick said.

Current engines have about 850 horsepower. NASCAR tested three different engines ranging from 750 and 800 horsepower.

All nine teams completed at least 160 laps Monday at the two-mile Michigan track.

Many had their own ideas on how to create more passing.

“I there are two ends of the spectrum that work. There’s the speedway style of racing [at the Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway] that’s flat-out and easy to drive and they’re all bunched up,” Patrick said. “It’s not really fair to have all the racing like that. It’s entertaining when we go there.

“I think you need to have tracks where you’re dedicated more to making your car go fast. When you slide around and move around a lot, tracks like Atlanta and Homestead, you slip and slide around, it makes for passing, too. We need to figure out how to get cars have a transition at the end of the run. That’s when you’re going to create passing. Making them easier to drive is going to make them more like a speedway.”

The nine drivers who tested were Vickers, Patrick, Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin.

“Our main goal is to harvest data today to help refine the 2015 package,” said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development. “We are listening to our fans. They have said they like a lot of passing, side-by-side racing and lead changes. That is what we are aiming to accomplish with these tests.”

One idea that seems to have traction was the driver-adjustable track bars. Those are big springs in the back of the car that adjust the height of the car. That would make it easier for drivers to dial-up traction as conditions change and the weight of the car changes as it burns gas.

“That can improve the safety, but at the same time, competition-wise, being able to adjust the track bar can clearly make it more competitive,” Greg Biffle said. “I mean, you can adjust over the tire run, over the fuel run. What we’ve got to be careful of is people fudging the rules and getting it to do other things, so that’s one thing that we need to protect from, but I like it.

“To spice it up a little bit, these are things that don’t cost the teams a tremendous amount of money. It’s going to cost some. It puts a little ingenuity into it. If it’s easy to police, I like it.”

The next race is Saturday night at the Bristol Motor Speedway. It’s a half-mile bull ring that relies as much on a driver saving his equipment and tires as the car itself.

In short, it's everything drivers like.

A week later, the series moves to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, where lap times fall off drastically as the tires wear.

That is something driver really like.