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Low-downforce package puts race back into drivers' hands

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By Larry McReynolds

We had an interesting and unusual race Sunday in Atlanta, but I can't think of any negative takeaways from the weekend. Listening and talking to drivers after the race, I never heard any negative discussions.
Once again, these drivers proved how great they are because of how much they had their hands full on the track. To think they could race inches apart at those speeds for 500 miles with only three cautions is definitely commendable in my book.
I don't think our FOX NASCAR broadcast could really do justice to all the hard racing that was happening on Sunday. It was almost like the folks at home needed a quad-screen to be able to follow all the continuing action.
I'm really excited to see teams build on what they learned Sunday. It was a great start for the low-downforce rules package in its 2016 race debut.
I'd really like us to get through racing at Texas in early April before we make any judgements on this package. That would get us through the various style tracks and give us a great measuring stick of where we stand at that point.
Overall, I was pretty darn satisfied when I left Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday evening. We had some great action. I never heard a single driver complain about not being able to pass because of "dirty air." To me, that was a huge plus for this package. It was a day of comers and goers, as well as strategy being played out.
I was really impressed with a couple of our rookies -- Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney. Unfortunately, Ryan got caught up in the crash on the final lap, so where he finished is not an indication of how he ran on Sunday.
I was also surprised that Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne didn't perform better, and Denny Hamlin was another shock. I thought Hamlin would be a major player, but it didn't take very long for the No. 11 to start going backward on Sunday.
I hated to see what happened to Matt Kenseth. I'm not the biggest fan of the rule that NASCAR has in place regarding Kenseth's improper fueling penalty. I totally get Matt's frustration but at the end of the day, it's a rule and the sanctioning body enforced it. The garage area continues to applaud NASCAR for being consistent with their rulings.
Kyle Busch also put on an impressive display and backed up what I have said all along about this rules package. I've said if you can make your car drive well, then you can pass folks.
Kyle started 39th and drove his No. 18 all the way to seventh before the halfway point -- completing the task without any help from cautions. That speaks volumes for the potential of the low-downforce package moving forward.

Low-downforce package puts race back into drivers' hands
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