2016 NASCAR Corporate and Rules News
NASCAR Europe launches new Elite Club Division: Building on the success of the past several seasons of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series throughout Europe, the series has announced the creation of a new division in the popular series. Drivers and stock car newcomers will be able to experiment in the NASCAR-sanctioned series by contesting four events in a new division. In addition to the regular Elite 1 and Elite 2 classes, the new Elite Club division has been specifically designed to attract drivers wanting to discover this NASCAR-sanctioned stock car championship based in Europe. The new division will stage meetings on Thursday and Friday at the following four road courses: Valencia (Spain), Hockenheim (Germany), Franciacorta (Italy) and Zolder (Belgium). Each meeting will feature three, 30-minute track sessions. These won’t be races per se, but track sessions where speed and lap time consistency will be crucial. Each driver will be offered 90 minutes of track time at each of the four events. Series’ officials will determine a “Reference Lap Time” for the track and the objective for each Elite Club driver will be to constantly produce lap times that are as close as possible to the Reference Lap Time. Each meeting will conclude with a podium ceremony. At the end of the year, the top three drivers in the Elite Club final standings will receive an invitation to attend the NASCAR Night Of Champions Touring Awards, plus an invitation for two persons to attend the upcoming NASCAR Daytona 500 or a contribution to the budget needed to compete in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race weekend in 2018.(Motorsport)(12-30-2016)
Why are teams swapping charters? It’s part of a complicated NASCAR system designed to encourage performance while also allowing teams to project revenues for a season. At the start of 2016, NASCAR issued 36 charters, giving those 36 cars a guaranteed spot in each race and a guaranteed base amount of revenue for the season. That left four spots available to “open” cars, whose base amount of participation revenue is less than 35 percent of that of charter teams.
Teams can lease out their charter for only one year over a five-year span and then must either run it or sell it. A portion of the revenue distributed to a charter team is based on the performance of that car the last three years; plus any car among the three worst charters for three consecutive years can have its charter pulled by NASCAR.
The move for Go FAS Racing means it will have slightly more guaranteed money next season because the RPM #44 team’s past three-year history is better than Go FAS Racing’s #32 team. It also should make the original #32 charter more valuable for 2018 in two ways — the Wood Brothers should finish higher in the owner standings (it was 21st in the 2016 team standings) and therefore would increase its 2018 guaranteed revenue; and it should eliminate a chance the charter could get revoked following the 2018 season because it most likely won’t be among the three worst charter teams for three consecutive years.(ESPN.com)(12-17-2016)
50 Most Influential: Introduction in Sports Business: NASCAR’s CEO and Chairman, Brian France, is ranked 23rd by the Sports Business Journal on its list of 50 most influential in sports business. 50 Most Influential: No. 23 – Brian France, Change from 2015: -10: The last 12 months were quieter for France after a two-year run of progressive moves that included a new playoff format, green initiatives, new TV deals, a new retail model and the sport’s charter system. Critics debate the relevance of NASCAR compared to years ago, but France is hoping to end his year on a high note by landing a new title sponsor that could help the sport skew younger.(Sports Business Daily – Brian France)(12-6-2016)
NASCAR Chairman Brian France lauds diversity initiatives, new Chase formats: The significant milestone achieved by Daniel Suárez in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway was not lost on NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. Suárez, from Monterrey, Mexico, became the first driver born outside the United States to win a championship in one of NASCAR’s top three national series when he took the checkered flag at the 1.5-mile track. But for the NASCAR initiatives embodied in the Drive for Diversity program, France pointed out, Suárez likely would not have been in position to claim the NASCAR XFINITY Series title at all.
“Obviously, we’re very proud of Daniel Suárez last night in an unbelievable run and winning the championship,” France said during a question-and-answer session with reporters before Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship race. “Historic for the sport in many ways. I got some nice calls from people south of the border last night that are very proud of him, and we’re very proud of him.We’re very proud that it validates our diversity plan in a significant way. … So we’re very proud of him. I would tell you, without the Drive for Diversity program, Daniel Suárez is not in NASCAR. We’re very pleased with that program.”
France also indicated NASCAR was pleased with the elimination Chase formats introduced this year in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series. The Sprint Cup Series has been using the knockout system for three years. “I obviously love it,” France said of the move. “We’re very pleased with the formats. Wouldn’t change a thing. The result of it is this: better racing that our fans get to see. … Go back a year ago for the XFINITY Series. I don’t fault them, but you had the winner and the champion and a couple others talk about all they needed to do was finish the race. If I ran 30th, I’ll be okay. Well, that’s not really great for competition. Speed it up to this year, you had all four, 1-2-3-4 thinking they have to win the race-forget about finishing. That’s a big deal for auto racing. We’re bold enough to do that.”
One of the possible changes France said NASCAR is considering is adding a reward or incentive for the driver who finishes on top of the standings after the regular season, the portion of the schedule that determines who makes the Chase and who doesn’t. “We’re going to think about that,” France acknowledged. “I think that’s a fair thing for us to consider, to make sure that the regular season is as important as it is.”
France also addressed progress on the search for an entitlement sponsor to replace Sprint on NASCAR’s premier series.
“It’s taken a little longer than I thought, but it’s also a big agreement and an important agreement,” France said. “It’s not just dollars and cents, but it’s a fit for us. We don’t want to announce anything certainly around this weekend. We’re in a good spot with that, I believe, but we’ll have to see how it finally plays out.”(NASCAR Wire Service)(11-20-2016)
Sprint Cup champion’s prize cut in half: Four drivers will compete for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship Sunday at Homestead with the intensity for the trophy unchanged but for a champion’s bonus less than half of last season’s, sources tell ESPN. The overall point fund last year was $21.765 million, with the champion slated to earn about $4.7 million (Kyle Busch’s take was less because he missed 11 races), and this year it will be less than half that amount. Second place last year paid $2.1 million, third $1.58 million, with seventh place on back earning less than a million. As part of the new charter system and in an effort to make their revenue stream more predictable, NASCAR and the team owners’ Race Team Alliance agreed to pay the champion less but spread the point fund more equitably throughout the top 25 drivers and teams. Drivers typically get paid a percentage of purse and point-fund money in addition to a base salary. The overall point fund increased in 2016, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brett Dewar said, but he wouldn’t elaborate, citing confidentiality clauses in the charters, about the distribution. The teams obviously had to share with the drivers what they were getting from NASCAR as they reworked agreements based on the new system unveiled in February. “I think it is a million-and-a-half to win a Cup,” six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said. “The last time I stood on stage, it was 7-and-a-half [million]. It’s a huge change.” Sources familiar with the charter agreements indicated the 2016 bonus to the championship team is much closer to $2 million than $1.5 million. The last time Johnson was on stage, in 2013, the champion bonus was $5.2 million, with Johnson and his team having total earnings of $14.66 million. Johnson and his team did get a $7.225 million champion bonus in 2008. NASCAR stopped publishing how much money a driver earns for the team each week in the purse and does not plan to publicize the bonus structure as it has in the past, citing the new charter system structure. The 36 charter teams get dollars from two pools of money based on participation — a fixed amount each team gets, and then an amount based on the team’s finishes the previous three years, most heavily weighted to the previous season, which means that the champion will earn more for his team over the next three years than if he had finished lower in the standings. Charter and non-charter teams vie for the same amount of purse money for each race through the field (obviously less than in past years because much of the money is part of the fixed amount) and year-end bonus money that goes to the top 25 owners and drivers.(see full article at ESPN)(11-18-2016)
NASCAR considering 2-day race weekends: Could the NASCAR race weekend get shorter? In one of about 15 to 20 initiatives being studied around the race-day experience, NASCAR stakeholders are considering tweaking some (Cup) race weekends to make them two-day events rather than three-day affairs. The proposal is still being evaluated (SportsBusiness Journal)(11-14-2016)
Brian France talks family business, NASCAR at Phoenix conference: During a keynote presentation Friday at Transitions West 2016, a family business conference held in Phoenix, Arizona, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France shared stories of advice provided to him by his grandfather William H.G. France and father Bill France Jr. – and how he now is doing the same with his nephew Ben Kennedy, a driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“I sat [Kennedy] down a while back and I told him, ‘You better figure out where is your value going to come in the business,'” said France. “He’s going to get an opportunity. He deserves an opportunity. He’s a great guy, a great student and he deserves every opportunity you’d want any other family member to get. But on the other hand, I want him to really think long and hard about coming into the business where he can add value. That’s harder and harder to do when businesses are more mature.”
Each generation of the France family passed down that specific piece of advice, Brian France said Friday, and NASCAR’s current leader said he took it to heart. France saw his value in ushering NASCAR into the 21st Century, making bold decisions while using the constantly growing technology space to help bring the sport closer to fans. France created the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup which has led to the most dramatic racing in years; introduced the landmark Charter and track sanctioning agreements that created stability for NASCAR’s teams and racetracks; signed agreements with FOX and NBC worth a reported $8.2 billion deal to broadcast races for the next decade; secured more FORTUNE 500 partnerships than at any time in history; and spearheaded the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program.
France talked about the importance of learning the business from the ground up and how that led to his first signature achievement – when as senior vice president in 1999, he consolidated the sanctioning body’s television rights. “People said it could never be done, you’re too independent, tracks would never go along with that. And we took revenues at the time from $90 million to now $900 million in that one area.”
Under France’s leadership, NASCAR now has more FORTUNE 500 partnerships than at any time in history and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program is beginning to bear fruit which is critical to widening the fan base. “I think communicating with your industry, your stakeholders, you can’t do that enough, you literally can’t do that enough,” he said. NASCAR’s new emphasis on collaboration with its industry becomes even more important as fans change the way they consume sports – one of the biggest challenges France says the sanctioning body faces in the next five to 10 years. “Millennial fans are consuming things way differently,” France said. “They’re getting their NASCAR not just solely from the TV, now it’s online, it’s video clips, it could be a number of things. They want to be entertained at a different level. They want to connect with their friends at the events.”
France believes that NASCAR’s emphasis on technology at the track and in its communication with fans provides it with an advantage over other sports in the changing consumption space. The sanctioning body has emphasized engaging with fans on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Year-to-date, the NASCAR Facebook and Twitter accounts have generated 3.8 billion impressions. NASCAR’s variety of digital offerings include NASCAR Drive, which gives fans drivers’ views from the cockpit, the NASCAR mobile app and a plethora of video content on NASCAR.com. Across all its digital platforms, NASCAR Digital Media has registered 890 million page views and 296 video views.
“In our case, we can be a great validator of technology because of all the telemetry and things that go on to make up an event,” he said. “We can be very interactive, we already are, but we can be a lot better for our fan base. We have to get all that stuff right.”(NASCAR Wire Service)(11-13-2016)
Rules change starting at Phoenix: NASCAR announced a rules change that go into place this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, site of the penultimate racing weekend of the season. The sanctioning body sent out a tech bulletin pertaining to Section 20.14.2.I-1 Truck Trailing Arms of the Sprint Cup rule book. The bulletin, which pertains to both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series reads as follows: “Truck trailing arm mounting slugs may be used to locate the truck trailing arms on the truck trailing arm mounting brackets. If used, truck trailing arm mounting slugs slots must be perpendicular to the slots on the truck trailing arm mounting brackets.” A NASCAR spokesman said the new changes were designed to keep teams from getting an advantage in rear yaw or sideforce, and that the changes would be part of the 2017 rules package.(FoxSports)(11-10-2016)
NASCAR Whelen Euro Series to race at Hockenheimring: Historic Hockenheimring road course will host NASCAR Whelen Euro Series stock cars for first time in 2017. Since its inception as the Racecar Euro-Series and later to the NASCAR Whelen Euro-Series, NASCAR’s only European-based stock car division has grown every year since the series began in 2009. One clear sign of the growth of the series is the recent announcement that the series will make its first visit to a road course in Germany competing at Hockenheimring in 2017. This will also be the first time the track – built in 1932 – will host NASCAR stock cars. The series competes on short tracks and road courses and it will use the 15-turn 2.842 mile (4.574 km) course originally created in 2002 for the inaugural NASCAR event slated for next year in early July.(Motorsport)(11-10-2016)
Variety of factors let to long caution at Martinsville: The convergence of several unusual incidents during Sunday’s Goody’s 500 at Martinsville Speedway, produced a record 29-lap and nearly 20-minute delay – one NASCAR officials vowed not to let repeat in the future. At the end of an unusually long green-flag run and in the middle of green-flag pit stops, Carl Edwards’ #19 Toyota blew a tire on Lap 356 of 500 which immediately put the race under caution. Many teams had not yet completed their stops when the caution was displayed and several teams were caught on pit road, a phenomena which typically causes scoring headaches for NASCAR. In addition, the race leader at the time of the caution, A.J. Allmendinger ran out of fuel and was forced to pit, while Jimmie Johnson – one of the cars still on the lead lap – had a fuel pickup problem and accidentally hit his engine kill switch, which briefly cut off his engine.
The individual problems kept delaying the restart, as some drivers took it upon themselves to pull up along other cars – a practice to indicate to NASCAR they were questioning their position in the lineup.
“Today’s situation was very unique and we were in the middle of green-flag pit stops,” said Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck. “That presents one set of issues and then as we got the lineup ready we had the leader run out of fuel, so we had to start over. We understand the stakes of the Chase – they are extremely high. Our job is to get it right. We then had another dynamic with (a large group) of wave-arounds. We took our time to make sure we got it right. It took a while but we felt very confident we got it right.” Buck said NASCAR would consider a stopping the race (a red flag) but the problem Sunday was the circumstances kept changing. “We felt we were headed to a quick resolution and then we were presented with completely different circumstances and we were focused on making sure we got it right.”(Motorsport)(10-31-2016)
NASCAR considering smaller pit crews next year UPDATE: There are ongoing discussions between team owners and NASCAR of further reducing the number of pit crew members going over the wall from six to five, Motorsport.com has learned. The cost-cutting initiative could go into effect as early as 2017. It would be up to each team’s discretion how to choreograph the pit stops. However, under a full fuel stop, the most likely scenario would feature the elimination of one tire carrier. In the evolution of NASCAR pit stops, most team incorporated two tire carriers in the mid-90s. The current proposal to limit crew personnel over the wall is twofold: As a cost-cutting measure for mid-level operations. Second, as a safety initiative to eliminate additional bodies on pit road.(Motorsport(9-27-2016)
UPDATE: NASCAR confirmed Wednesday it won’t be making changes to pit crews for the 2017 season. There had been reports that NASCAR was considering smaller pit crews next year, and a reduction from six to five over-the-wall crew members had been discussed in meetings with the team owner council. Teams also have floated ideas about elongated pit stops to de-emphasize their importance and impact on a race. But NASCAR has elected to keep its Sprint Cup pit crews at six, which has been the limit since 2011 when the catch-can man was eliminated.(NBC Sports)(10-27-2016)
NASCAR would consider moving up race start times because of weather: On Tuesday night, Major League Baseball announced it was moving the start time of Wednesday’s World Series Game 2 an hour earlier based on rain in the forecast. Fox adjusted its TV schedule to accommodate the change. So when bad weather is predicted, why can’t NASCAR do the same for its events? Well, it can — under the right circumstances. “Every situation is unique, but we would consider altering a scheduled race start time due to weather, especially if we thought it would benefit fans,” said Steve Herbst, NASCAR senior vice president, broadcasting and production, in a statement to USA TODAY Sports. “There are a multitude of variables that would factor into such a decision that would include tracks, broadcast partners and all of our stakeholders. That said, we would be open to having those discussions on a case-by-case basis and have had initial conversations of how that could work in 2017.” Traditionally, NASCAR has been reluctant to move up the green flag time by more than 10 or 15 minutes – using the listed TV time as a barrier (when the race broadcast begins). NBC and Fox both declined to comment to USA TODAY Sports for this story, instead referring comment to NASCAR — but it’s clear there’s some flexibility if the sport’s officials, the network and the venue all agree. That was what happened for Wednesday night’s World Series game, and it could potentially be the case at some point in NASCAR.(USA Today)(10-27-2016)
NASCAR will limit Cup drivers in lower series: In an announcement that will put an even brighter spotlight on the next generation of stars and bolster the identity of all three of its national series, NASCAR announced on Wednesday driver participation guidelines for the 2017 season. The new guidelines limit the number of events a premier series driver can race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Starting next season, premier series drivers with more than five years of full-time experience will be eligible to compete in a maximum of 10 races in the XFINITY Series and seven races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Additionally, drivers with more than five years of full-time premier series experience will be ineligible to compete in the final eight races in each series, as well as the Dash 4 Cash races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The final eight races are comprised of the regular season finale and the entirety of the Chase in each series. Drivers earning premier series points in 2017 also are not eligible to compete in the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship Races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“The updated guidelines will elevate the stature of our future stars, while also providing them the opportunity to compete against the best in professional motorsports,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “These updated guidelines are the result of a collaborative effort involving the entire industry, and will ultimately better showcase the emerging stars of NASCAR.”
Drivers with more than five years of full-time experience in the premier series still can run for an XFINITY Series or Camping World Truck Series championship, provided they have declared for championship points in the respective series.
Wednesday’s announcement signals the next step in NASCAR’s driver participation guideline evolution. Prior to the 2016 season, NASCAR announced that members of the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field would be ineligible to compete in the 2016 Championship Race in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In 2011, NASCAR implemented a rule requiring drivers to select one of the three national series in which to collect championship points.(NASCAR)(10-26-2017)
New footbox protection making debut at Talladega: About the only change to NASCAR Sprint Cup cars since their last trip to Talladega Superspeedway is the addition of 20 pounds. The addition of the weight, theoretically, could have a small — very small — impact on whether a 3,300-pound stock car gets airborne, one of the concerns of drivers as they left the track in May. The changes aren’t made to keep the cars on the ground but to protect the drivers who hit the wall. The weight is part of a new construction of the footbox area, which includes a new design plus foam and is meant to protect a driver’s lower extremities. Kyle Busch missed 11 races when he broke his right leg and left foot in an Xfinity Series accident at Daytona in 2015. The new floorboard chassis requirements go into effect in 2017 for restrictor-plate tracks and 2018 for all tracks. Teams have the option to use it at Talladega this weekend. The four Joe Gibbs Racing cars, the Furniture Row Racing car and the Roush Fenway Racing car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are among the cars with the changes.(in part from ESPN)(10-23-2016)
NASCAR considering further limiting Cup drivers in lower series: For fans who don’t like Sprint Cup drivers competing in Xfinity and Camping World Truck races, a NASCAR executive says “stay tuned” for an announcement “fairly soon” on the issue. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, uttered those words Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio when asked about limiting Cup drivers in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. “It certainly is on our radar,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve heard the fans. It’s interesting, it’s been a balance throughout the years. We’ve always had Sprint Cup drivers come into the Xfinity Series and sometimes dominate, back in the Mark Martin days. As the sport has evolved one of the great things is we’ve got more of a fan following in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. They like seeing those drivers come up through the ranks and it’s our job to make sure that Xfinity is where names are made. We’ve got to do on that on the racetrack. That is something we’re taking a really hard look at for next year, I’d say stay tuned. We’re going to look at and probably have something to announce fairly soon.” NASCAR prohibits any Cup driver who was in last year’s Chase from competing in this year’s season finale for the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway. One possibility could be for NASCAR to extend such a ban for all future Chase races in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. Since 2011, Cup regulars have won 138 of the 196 Xfinity races (70.4%).(NBC Sports)(10-17-2016)
2017 rules given to teams UPDATE: Motorsport.com has obtained a copy of the proposed modifications for next season. Some of the highlights include:
1. Testing policy – An update to the National Series testing policy which would allow drivers returning to the sport following a medical absence to have an extra test under the discretion of the sanctioning body.
2. Spoiler Size – For non-superspeedway events, the spoiler height will be reduced from 3.5 inches to 2.375 inches, further reducing downforce.
3. Mandatory Roof Hatches at Superspeedways – Roof hatches will remain optional at other race tracks.
4. Energy Absorbing Material added to the toe board in the driver’s cockpit – NASCAR-approved toe board will be mandatory at Superspeedways.
5. Frame Changes – In an effort to restrict movement of the rear axle during competition, NASCAR is mandating change to the main frame assembly, truck trailing arm crossmember assembly, track bar mount and truck trailing arm on rear suspension, arm spacer and pinion angle shim.
6. Restrictor Plates – For superspeedways, the initial restrictor plate hole size will decrease from 57/64 to 7/8 inch.
See more at Motorsport.(10-14-2016)
UPDATE: A further reduction of downforce and the implementation of additional safety developments highlight the 2017 NASCAR premier series rules package announced by sanctioning body officials on Friday at Kansas Speedway. Aerodynamic adjustments similar to those in place for races at Kentucky Speedway and Michigan International Speedway in 2016 form the framework for the 2017 performance platform. However, slight modifications to the overall base package have been made. According to officials, the 2017 race package will include:
” Rear spoiler dimensions for all non-restricted events will be 2 3/8 inches x 61 inches. Current spoiler dimensions are 3 1/2 x 61; for the Kentucky and Michigan races, the dimensions were 2 1/2 x 53 inches.
” Splitter measurements for the 2017 package will be the same as those for the 2016 Kentucky and Michigan races, with a 3-inch reduction in the outboard (side) areas;
” A tapered rear deck fin;
” Net rear steer setting of zero.
The aero changes are the next evolution of the platform first rolled out for select events in 2015. Mandatory for 2016, those changes reduced downforce (the pressure exerted on a vehicle as it moves through the air) from 2,700 pounds to approximately 2,000 pounds. The 2017 package is expected to reduce downforce by approximately 500 pounds, landing in the 1,500-pound range. Safety enhancements, which include strengthening the interior driver compartment, will be mandatory for superspeedway events at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway and optional at the remaining venues for 2017. The aero package for superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega will remain unchanged, although there will be a decrease in restrictor plate size (from 57/64ths to 7/8ths of an inch) to combat increasing speeds at the two tracks.(NASCAR.com)(10-14-2016)
NASCAR open to rewarding regular season champion UPDATE: For the fans – and competitors – that feel there hasn’t been enough of a premium awarded to the driver/team that accumulates the most points in the regular season be patient. The point system could be changing again. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Office Steve O’Donnell said Monday on Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio the possibility is under consideration. “One of the things we’re looking at is (in) the first 26 races, are there some additional things we could do for the winner of the regular season,” O’Donnell said. “I think that’s certainly fair for us to look at – and we are.”
“That’s the beauty of this format,” O’Donnell added. “You have to be on top of your game. We feel like the first 26 (races) do matter in terms of what you’ve learned, are you carrying any momentum in, and then who can really get hot over the next six weeks and move on.” But that doesn’t mean NASCAR is opposed to rewarding the regular-season points leader. “I’d say very serious consideration and it’s not just snapping your fingers,” O’Donnell said “There’s a lot of things that need to go into it but a lot of those things have already happened with conversations. Not there yet. Not ready to announce anything but certainly taking a strong look at that for all three series for next year as well.”(Motorsport)(10-4-2016)
UPDATE: Sprint Cup drivers would like to see some sort of bonus awarded for the regular-season points leader. It’s also an argument many fans have raised since the beginning of the Chase era. “It’s something that we want,” driver Joey Logano said Tuesday. “The drivers want that. It’s something to race for during the regular season, and we want more than just a trophy. There has got to be some kind of reward.” Logano said the NASCAR Driver’s Council has been discussing the issue and possible incentives and awards for leading the regular-season standings. One proposal is a bye into the second round of the Chase. Harvick advanced to the second round but had to win at New Hampshire after a 20th-place finish in the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway. He is 12th in the standings entering Round 2. Logano said drivers have discussed the issue with NASCAR, but no decisions have been made yet.(Sporting News)(10-5-2016)
NASCAR expands penalties that can lead to “encumbered finish”: Despite all three championship Chases already underway in its three national series NASCAR on Thursday increased the number of penalties that it will trigger an “encumbered finish” going forward. Until Thursday, only post-race penalties involving failure of the Laser Inspection Station and improperly attached lug nuts could trigger an encumbered finish, which prevents the driver involved from using the finish from qualifying for or advancing in the Chase, or using the finish for eligibility in non-points races. Three more violations were added on Thursday, all of which will be in effect for Friday’s Truck race at Las Vegas and Saturday and Sunday’s Xfinity and Cup races at Dover International Speedway. They are: Post-race incorrect ground clearance violations; Post-race incorrect body height violations; and Failure to meet minimum weight. Truck series Chase participant John Hunter Nemechek, who’s No. 8 Chevrolet failed postrace body height measurements this past weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, would have been the first victim of the new policy, but NASCAR elected not to apply the new rules retroactively.(Motorsport)(9-30-2016)
Spectator drops lawsuit against Daytona and NASCAR: A spectator claiming to be injured by debris from the Austin Dillon wreck in July 2015 at Daytona International Speedway has dropped his lawsuit against the track and NASCAR.The attorney for spectator William Fulton filed the paperwork Thursday to voluntarily dismiss Fulton’s lawsuit. The dismissal of the lawsuit would indicate a settlement in the case, although there is no reason for the dismissal specified in the filing in Florida state court in Volusia County, Fla. In the lawsuit, Fulton claimed that he was sitting in Row 6 when the crash happened at the finish of the Coke Zero 400, where Dillon’s car got airborne and flew into the catch fence. Fulton claimed that as he shielded his wife, he was hit in the head and shoulder by debris. Beyond stating in the complaint that he has not fully recovered from the injuries, Fulton did not list specific injuries in his complaint nor a specific amount being sought in damages.(ESPN.com)(9-27-2016)
NASCAR warns teams not to push limits in post-race inspection: NASCAR warned Sprint Cup competitors not to “circumvent what happens for postrace inspection” during the drivers meeting Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. NASCAR later confirmed the warning also meant that teams should not be swerving after the race as they do to ensure that their car meets postrace requirements. Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer, addressed competitors at the beginning of Sunday’s meeting. “We appreciate everybody being here today,” O’Donnell said after introducing VIPs. “I know they’ve come here to see a race. With that in mind, there has been a lot of dialogue in what takes place after the checkered flag with postrace inspection. I want to make clear to everybody here that in NASCAR’s judgment any measures that are taken to circumvent what happens for postrace inspection we’re going to react. We know that’s subjective but ask all of you not to put it in our hands because we will react if we have to. I think everybody knows what that means. NASCAR stated earlier this week that every Chase car eligible for the championship will go through inspection after the race. All 16 cars remain eligible at New Hampshire. When the field is cut to 12 after Dover, then all those cars will go through inspection. Same as when the Chase field is cut to eight teams and then to four.(NBC Sports)(9-25-2016)
Why Chase round no longer have names: Two years ago, NASCAR moved toward streamlining its playoffs through a format more traditionally in line with other professional sports. In the third season of the revamped Chase for the Sprint Cup, the branding of the 10-race championship also has moved in a conventional direction with the dispensing of nicknames for its four rounds in favor of traditional labels. Jill Gregory, who was named NASCAR’s chief marketing officer last month, said it’s about simplicity. “At the end of the day, we need to make the sport accessible and easy to consume, and sports fans, whether motorsports, NASCAR, stick and ball, they’re familiar with a certain vernacular, and we wanted to keep it simple,” Gregory, the guest on this week’s NASCAR on NBC podcast, said in the Wednesday episode. “Sometimes, you can out-clever yourself.” When the Chase for the Sprint Cup was reintroduced with elimination rounds and an expanded field in the 2014 season, the first three rounds were known as “Challenger,” “Contender” and “Eliminator.” After using the branded rounds again last season, they were dropped this year. The number of title contenders in each segment is the determinant for the name (i.e., Round of 16, Round of 12, Round of 8 and Championship 4). “It’s very easy to understand Round of 16, Round of 8, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible for fans to engage with it,” Gregory said.(NBC Sports)(9-22-2016)
No penalties for Truex, Johnson; NASCAR to increase tolerances in post-race inspection: NASCAR has decided to increase the tolerances for postrace measurements, eliminating all lower-tier penalties and only issuing a penalty if it reaches the point where suspensions would be issued and a win would not be allowed to count toward advancement in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The decision is retroactive to the race last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, meaning that race winner Martin Truex Jr. and 12th-place finisher Jimmie Johnson will not be penalized for being outside the rear alignment tolerances by a minimal amount. Without a penalty, Johnson remains eighth in points. With the 10-point penalty he would have received, Johnson would have fallen into a tie for 12th in the standings. NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell said the decision was made so that all penalties are equitable. Under the previous structure, Truex virtually would have no penalty because he won the race to automatically qualify for the next round of the Chase while Johnson would have had a major 10-point penalty that could have put his ability to advance to the next round in jeopardy. “We recognized if we were to apply those penalties as we listed them out for the event, those penalties would not have the same impact on the competitors based on the Chase format and the increased emphasis on win bonuses [to advance],” O’Donnell said. “If you look back as to why we created the deterrent system we put in place to insure that we had a level playing field for all 40 cars that were competing in the event and in this case, if we applied those penalties, the postrace penalty would not really treat each competitor fairly.” O’Donnell said he feels the industry believes the Truex and Johnson infractions were minor in nature. All of the cars passed inspection prerace, and teams design the cars to bend and adjust at race speed and loads in the turns. O’Donnell also announced that every Chase car would go through the postrace measurement inspection station. Previously, it was the top-five and select others. If a car does fail postrace measurements at the standard NASCAR set last week as its most egregious violation, it would be a 35-point penalty, a three-race suspension for the crew chief and a $65,000 fine for the crew chief. If the car had won, the driver would not be allowed to use the win to advance to the next round of the Chase. A win is worth 44 or 45 points, depending on whether a driver leads the most laps.(ESPN.com(9-21-2016)
Why are cars swerving after the races are over? Don’t stop watching NASCAR’s drivers after the checkered flag falls – there are some strange goings on occurring after that. On Sunday following the Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway, multiple drivers – not only the winner – made serpentine moves on the backstretch on the cool down lap that would have been more natural through the esses of a road course – not a straightaway on a 1.5-mile oval. On Sunday at Chicagoland, crew chief Cole Pearn reminded Martin Truex Jr. repeatedly before his burnouts: “Remember to swerve.” So what did that mean exactly? The bottom line is that competitors are spinning and swerving to make sure the rear toe returns to legal parameters before the cars are measure on the laser inspection station post-race. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Office Steve O’Donnell finally addressed the issue on Monday. When O’Donnell was a guest on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, he said NASCAR is looking into the practice. “That’s why we put the rules in place that we did prior to the Chase,” O’Donnell said. “We don’t want to have to react to this. We want to see the best racing possible. We want the cars to come in and race straight up. Unfortunately, it’s part of racing, too, is to push the limits. So we have to find that balance. What we want to be talking about is the racing on the track – not post-race, not what occurs on the cool down laps. We’ve got a job to do to with the team owners to talk about exactly the questions I’m being asked today – which is very fair – but that’s where we’re headed.” On Sept. 7, NASCAR made a change to the rules making welded track bar mounts mandatory – rather than a moveable mount that had the potential to increase side force on the car by promoting right rear yaw. Some team managers contend the rule did not go far enough to discourage the practice.(Motorsport)(9-20-2016)
NASCAR sued for discrimination; will counter sue for defamation: A Georgia man has filed a $500 million race discrimination lawsuit against NASCAR and its race teams, claiming his attempts to make NASCAR more racially diverse were rebuffed by the sanctioning body. Terrance Cox III, who operated Diversity Motorsports Racing and who founded a group to protest what it views as injustices of NASCAR by sponsors and team owners toward the minority community, filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in New York. Cox claims that NASCAR, racetrack operator International Speedway Corp. and its race teams have not made any efforts to have corporate sponsors support an African-American team. In a statement, NASCAR defended its Drive for Diversity program — which has been in place since 2004 — and said it will fight the lawsuit. “NASCAR embraces all individuals interested and involved in our sport, whether as partners, fans, competitors or employees, and there is no merit to this lawsuit,” the statement said. “NASCAR has a long-standing history of investing in diversity efforts including the NASCAR Drive for Diversity, NASCAR Diversity Internship and NASCAR Diversity Pit Crew Development programs. … We stand behind our actions, and will not let a publicity-seeking legal action deter us from our mission. NASCAR not only will defend our organization against these meritless allegations, but we will be asserting our own claims against Mr. Cox for his defamatory actions.”(ESPN.com)(9-20-2016)
Twitter handles to replace driver Names on Chase driver windshields: NASCAR drivers competing in the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will display their personal Twitter handles on their respective car windshields during the first three-race round of #TheChase, NASCAR and Twitter announced. The activation is part of an aggressive push by NASCAR to use Twitter, Vine and Periscope to elevate The Chase experience for fans during the sport’s most social postseason ever. Thursday @NASCAR unveiled a new, racing-themed Twitter emoji, which will help bring #TheChase tweets to life throughout the 10-week postseason. Beginning this weekend, @NASCAR will curate Twitter Moments and share Vines and live video via Periscope all capturing the spirit, excitement and behind-the-scenes of this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The first Chase race will also feature the Twitter bird logo, @NASCAR and #TheChase displayed as giant stencils in the infield at Chicagoland Speedway. After each round of The Chase, NASCAR will tweet action-packed digital films that feature NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers reenacting the on-track highlights and storylines.(NASCAR)(9-16-2016)
France comments on the Chase; Cup Series sponsorship: Thursday was Chase Media Day in Chicago, with all 16 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup available to meet with the media and talk about their prospects for winning a championship. Also on hand in the Windy City was NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France who sat down with FOXSports.com for an exclusive one-on-one interview. A few questions:
FOXSports.com: You’ve tweaked the Chase format numerous times; this one appears to be a winner. Will you stick with it for another few years?
France: I can’t see anything that we would change. We’ve got everything we want, which is the ability to win and move on — an elimination format, which people can understand pretty easily. I would be very surprised if there’s an idea that changed the Chase in any significant way.
FOXSports.com: What’s been the biggest pleasant surprise of the year so far?
France: The continual adaptation to the lower downforce package. I was a little surprised by that. There were different views on that. We’re all for whatever makes the racing tighter, closer and better. I think the teams have largely voiced their acceptance of that’s the direction that we want to go. And the racing’s been arguably better.
See more at Fox Sports.
AND: France still believes the sanctioning body is on schedule to announce an entitlement sponsor for the Cup Series some time next month. “We’re on schedule give a week or two here or there,” France told Motorsport.com on Thursday. As for sponsors – or sponsor – France did not offer specifics other than to say it’s shaping up to be just one for the entitlement. Although Kroger appeared to be one of the frontrunners mid-summer, the likelihood of other potential partners such as PayPal and Coca-Cola have been emerged as possibilities over the last month.(Motorsport)(9-16-2016)
Betty Jane France splitting assets among her children: Betty Jane France evenly split her property and assets among her two children, Lesa France Kennedy and Brian France, and gave them control of her two trusts, according to her will. The widow of former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr., Betty Jane France died Aug. 29. Her will, filed in Volusia County (Florida) court last week, is dated Nov. 4, 2004 — the same date as the will signed by her husband, who was the son of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and died in 2007. NASCAR, a privately held company owned by the France family with Brian France serving as chairman and CEO, traditionally does not comment on its ownership structure, and a spokesman said any impact from the will on NASCAR ownership is a private matter. Documents from past lawsuits and other public filings have indicated that Lesa France Kennedy and her uncle Jim France — who both hold posts as NASCAR vice chairmen — have the primary control of NASCAR. According to the 2016 ISC proxy statement, Betty Jane France owned 24.7 percent of the voting stock, which included her portion of the France Family Group’s shares. (ESPN.com)(9-15-2016)
NASCAR looking to clarify penalties issued in Chase UPDATE: NASCAR officials are considering a plan on how they will address potential race winners and others competing in the Chase who are caught for rules violations. This season, NASCAR has unveiled several new rules – new lug nut penalties and the use of the laser inspection station in pre- and post-race inspections are among them – that could possibly come into play in racing for a championship. NASCAR officials say they want clarity for teams and fans on how these rules will be addressed when it comes to finishes in the Chase, which largely determine which of the 16 drivers advance through the three rounds and into the championship race at Homestead, Fla. The goal of the plan, which they hope will be completed this week but is not yet set in stone, will be to strike a balance between egregious issues and ensuring a team doesn’t receive something akin to a “death penalty” for a small issue with no realistic impact on the finishing order. If the plan is adapted, it would be put into effect prior to the start of next weekend’s Chase in the Cup series at Chicagoland Speedway but would apply to all three national series.(Motorsport)(9-11-2016)
UPDATE: NASCAR introduced rules changes for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs on Wednesday, giving competition officials the power to issue more stringent rulings on technical infractions involving post-race laser inspections and lug nuts. The developments were announced just days before the series visits Chicagoland Speedway for Sunday’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, the opening event in the 10-race Chase playoffs. Similar changes, where applicable, will also be in place for the inaugural Chase events in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series, which get underway in two weeks, at Kentucky and New Hampshire, respectively.
The changes allow NASCAR officials to strip race-winning teams of the benefits associated with a Chase victory, which include the automatic advancement into the next elimination round and any tiebreaker implications, should those teams fail the post-race lug-nut check or the post-race Laser Inspection Station (LIS) platform. Previously, lug-nut infractions have resulted in a one-race suspension and a fine for the crew chief while LIS failures have carried a point deduction in the drivers’ and owners’ championship points in addition to the crew chief fine.
Going into the Chase, post-race failure of the LIS platform will now be deemed a P4 level penalty if a vehicle’s rear toe measurements exceed the allowed measurements on both sides. In the Sprint Cup Series, the first violation would result in an encumbered finishing position, the loss of 35 championship driver and owner points, as well as a three-race suspension and $65,000 fine for the crew chief.
In the XFINITY Series, the penalties would be the same, but the crew chief fine would be $20,000. The LIS platform is not a part of the NCWTS inspection process.
The penalties will be the same as those for an LIS infraction if a vehicle is found to have 17 or fewer lug nuts in place following the completion of the event (in Sprint Cup, XFINITY or Camping World Truck).
UPDATE 2: Included in NASCAR’s new “encumbered” finish rules that go into effect this weekend was news that crew chiefs will no longer be suspended for one race if one lug nut is missing on a wheel in post-race inspection. Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, said in a teleconference that it had determined that one missing lug nut did not give a team a “serious competitive advantage.” In the Sprint Cup Series, the first offense for one missing lug nut would be a P2 penalty with a $10,000 fine. The second offense would be a $20,000 fine. Now it will take two or more missing lug nuts for a crew chief to be suspended one race. If there are only 18 properly secured lug nuts, the P3 penalty will result in a one race crew chief suspension, the loss of 15 championship owner and driver points and a $20,000 fine.(NBC Sports)(9-14-2016)
NASCAR has no issue with Larson’s victory celebration: A NASCAR executive says the sanctioning body has no issues with the burnout Kyle Larson performed Sunday after scoring his first career Sprint Cup victory. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the celebration was not viewed as excessive. O’Donnell said earlier this month on “The Morning Drive” that series officials were seeing a “trend we don’t like to see” with victory celebrations that damage the winning car. He said at the time that “you’ll probably see us sooner than later put something in place that covers us for that as you kind of head into the last quarter of the season.” But O’Donnell didn’t have an issue with Larson’s burnout after Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway.(in part from NBC Sports)(8-30-2016)
Liberty Mutual Debuting New NASCAR Deal To Promote Spotters: Liberty Mutual this weekend is debuting a unique content sponsorship in NASCAR entitled “Spotter Coverage” based around the notion of spotters helping their drivers worry less. At select ISC and SMI races remaining on the 2016 schedule, the Massachusetts-based insurer will sponsor spotter stands. The deal starts at Michigan International Speedway and also has an accompanying media buy on NBC Sports. Spotter stands at participating tracks will have track-facing signage that reads, “Helping Drivers Worry Less.”(Sports Business Daily)(8-27-2016)
NASCAR and Nickelodeon Wave Green Flag for Third Season of Hammer Down: NASCAR and Nickelodeon are joining forces again to take viewers inside the world of NASCAR racing with the return NASCAR Hammer Down. Premiering Friday, Sept. 23 at 9:30pm (ET/PT) on Nicktoons, the third season of NASCAR Hammer Down features eight, 15-minute episodes hosted by Karsyn Elledge, granddaughter of Dale Earnhardt and daughter of Kelley Earnhardt Miller. This season, Elledge will be joined by her sister, Kennedy Elledge, for driver interviews, goofy antics and behind-the-scenes insight into the technology and people that propel more than 90 annual NASCAR national series events. Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing, and Bubba Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, also return as series regulars for the popular “Bubba & Blaney” segment. Produced by NASCAR Productions, season three premieres with back-to-back episodes, the first of which emanates from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.(NASCAR)(8-25-2016)
NASCAR Launches Youth Mobile App: Kids everywhere are going back to school, but not before celebrating the end of summer with NASCAR. All this week, Kids Drive NASCAR is engaging the sport’s young fans with news, events and social content geared toward kids leading up to the NASCAR national series races at Michigan International Speedway and Road America. As part of the festivities, NASCAR today announced the launch of the Acceleration Nation app, the first digital experience created just for kids featuring racing-themed games, activities and fun ways to learn more about NASCAR. Parents can download the new app for their children at the App Store and Google Play. NASCAR’s social media channels will share Kids Drive NASCAR content throughout the week, including videos and Snapchat takeovers featuring young drivers sharing their off-track experiences, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers with their kids. Fans are also invited to get in on the fun by sharing pictures of their children and families enjoying NASCAR races using #KidsDriveNASCAR. The 6,400-square-foot NASCAR Acceleration Nation live experience will be on display at Michigan International Speedway and will host interactive activities and driver autograph signings for kids throughout the weekend. For more information about at NASCAR Acceleration Nation.(NASCAR)(8-24-2016)
NASCAR will not increase timing lines at Bristol: NASCAR confirmed Monday to NBC Sports that there will be no pit road timing zones added for this week’s races at Bristol Motor Speedway. The track already has 14 such timing zones. NASCAR has added timing zones since the Sprint Cup and Xfinity races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July and begun enforcing those zones since the July Cup and Xfinity races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There were 18 timing zones at Pocono Raceway after those were doubled for the Camping World Truck and Sprint Cup races last month. In the three Cup races that have had the additional timing zones enforced, pit road speeding penalties are up 375 percent compared to the three races before NASCAR made the change. NASCAR is not making a change at Bristol because it is comfortable with the timing zones there. In the last four Cup races at Bristol, there have been an average of 11.3 speeding penalties issued.(NBC Sports)(8-16-2016)
O’Donnell says NASCAR will look at post-race celebrations: Citing a “trend we don’t like to see,” a NASCAR executive hinted Tuesday of a rule change that would soon curb post-race victory celebrations. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, made the comments on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio two days after Denny Hamlin’s victory celebration at Watkins Glen forced him to walk to victory lane. “It’s a trend we don’t like to see,” O’Donnell said of winning cars damaged in victory celebrations. “We want to see a celebration, and we think that drivers can celebrate without doing that. So, you’ll probably see us sooner than later put something in place that covers us for that as you kind of head into the last quarter of the season. Again not there yet. We’re talking to a lot of the teams about it, but I think everybody is on board with the direction we want to go in.” Section 22.214.171.124.c in the Sprint Cup Rule Book states that “the first-place vehicle may engage in appropriate celebratory activity (such as a victory lap, burn-out(s) or donuts) prior to reporting to victory circle.” Any damage during a victory celebration, though, could impact NASCAR’s ability to properly inspect the winning car afterward and ensure that everything was legal with the vehicle. Questions have been raised before about excessive celebrations that damage the winning car and how that could impact NASCAR’s post-race inspection process. In March 2015, a NASCAR official told NBC Sports that if series officials believed that such damage from a celebration affected inspection after the race that they would address the matter.(NBC Sports)(8-10-2016)
Panini’s NASCAR Cards Available: In association with Panini America, the world’s largest sports and entertainment collectibles company, NASCAR fans and collectors alike can purchase the first of four officially licensed trading card products expected in 2016. To coincide with the release, NASCAR Sunoco Rookie of the Year frontrunner Chase Elliott will attend the Panini VIP Party at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, later this week. The new NASCAR trading cards, a classically licensed-product, are meticulously produced by Panini and will continue to be a nostalgic collectible for fans. The first line of officially licensed trading cards, available today, encompasses teams and drivers across the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series”, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Through this multi-year agreement, NASCAR Team Properties and Panini will deliver high-quality trading card products each year. NASCAR trading cards are available at Walmart, Target and hobby stores nationwide in addition to the Fanatics Trackside Superstore and NASCAR.com Superstore.
2016 NASCAR sets include:
· 2016 Panini Prizm NASCAR – Available now
· 2016 Panini Torque NASCAR – Early September
· 2016 Panini Certified NASCAR – Early October
· 2016 Panini National Treasures NASCAR – Early November.(Panini America)(8-3-2016)
NASCAR discusses end of race process: Steve O’Donnell, senior vice president and chief racing development officer for NASCAR explained the end of Monday’s race:
“What we worked through was really unprecedented in terms of the fog you had rolling in. The reason you kept cars out on the track under caution was to see if the fog was going to roll through, and if you red flagged the race and the fog had lifted, we’ve got a long delay to get back, and we didn’t have that many laps to go. So that’s why we kept cars out originally under caution…. on the red flag … we never lost the track, so in this case, I think most NASCAR fans want to see a complete race. We’ve always stated that we will make every effort to get a complete race in, and in this case since we hadn’t lost the track, we wanted to wait. Unfortunately we had a lightning warning come in, and once the track had to evacuate the grandstands and we could get all the cars confiscated, we made the decision then to unplug it and announce that Chris had been declared the winner of the race.
We kept looking behind race control and seeing if it would lift. At times you would see a bit of a window… [but] we needed a racetrack where we could see everything. Unfortunately that never happened. Candidly that was part of the decision. Lightning obviously forced that, but I would have anticipated shortly thereafter we probably would have had to make the call because we did not see any end in sight to the fog at that point.(NASCAR)(8-2-2016)
NASCAR takes cars back to R&D center for evaluation: Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer, revealed Monday at Pocono Raceway that six cars were going to NASCAR R&D for inspection this week, providing the sanctioning body the chance to perform midseason evaluations to aerodynamics and the engines. The six cars selected from the Pennsylvania 400, which was won by Chris Buescher, represent two each from the three OEMs: The #2 (Brad Keselowski) and #16 (Greg Biffle) from the Ford camp, the #11 (Denny Hamlin) and #18 (Kyle Busch) for Toyota and the #4 (Kevin Harvick) and #5 (Kasey Kahne) for Chevrolet. Typically, NASCAR brings two or three cars to its R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina, for weekly inspections.(NASCAR.com)(8-2-2016)
Increased timing zones on pit road at Pocono: NASCAR has increased the number of timing zones on pit road this weekend at Pocono Raceway. Last week, NASCAR had 12 timing zones at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – an average of one timing zone about every three pit stalls. Four drivers were penalized for speeding at Indy: #48-Jimmie Johnson, #11-Denny Hamlin, #14-Tony Stewart and #1-Jamie McMurray. This weekend, NASCAR will have 18 timing zones at Pocono – an average of one timing zone about every two pit stalls. NASCAR increased the number of timing zones after questions were raised when Martin Truex Jr. was penalized earlier this month at Kentucky for passing leader Kevin Harvick on the left.(NBC Sports)(7-31-2016)
Most mentioned drivers in first half of season: According to research by Joyce Julius, #4-Kevin Harvick recevied the most TV interviews and TV mentions in the first half of the Sprint Cup season (through Kentucky) and #18-Busch had the most interview time. They also note that there were 46 fewer (-23%) NASCAR driver TV interviews at mid-year compared to 2015 at the same point in the season.
NASCAR implementing safety changes to cars at superspeedways next year: In an attempt to protect the driver’s feet and legs, NASCAR will gradually implement changes to strengthen the car by modifying the floorboard, driver’s anti-intrusion plating, firewall and footbox areas. The changes, sparked by the accidents to Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon last year, are optional for 2016, mandatory for the Daytona and Talladega races in 2017 and then all tracks in 2018. NASCAR senior vice president Gene Stefanyshyn said teams designed various proposed changes, and NASCAR had done two crash tests to help determine the changes. “We’re replacing existing materials with materials in instances which are thicker or being formed in a way with less welds,” Stefanyshyn said in announcing the changes Thursday. “Also the way we attach part of it is we are creating, for lack of a better term, a zipper so we provide a lot more weld surface. The gradual implementation is so teams don’t obsolete current chassis, as the new chassis will have to go through the NASCAR certification process.(ESPN.com)(7-28-2016)
NASCAR will use lower downforce package at Michigan: In a rules bulletin Thursday morning, NASCAR announced it will run the lower downforce rules package in the Aug. 28 race at Michigan International Speedway. The changes, which include a shortened spoiler, a reduced splitter and the elimination of rear skew that generated sideforce, also were used in the June 12 race at Michigan, the July 9 race at Kentucky Speedway and at the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. The objective is enhancing the ability of drivers to pass. NASCAR vice president of innovation Gene Stefanyshyn said the same rules likely would be used for the 2017 season. NASCAR still is considering a few tweaks that including shifting some downforce from front to rear, removing some rear downforce or adding some sideforce. Any further tweaks will be made in collaboration with teams after the Aug. 28 race at the 2-mile oval. Stefanyshyn said there were more setup combinations to try after experimenting with the new rules at Michigan in June.(NBC Sports)(7-28-2016)
NASCAR announces 2017 race start times: NASCAR, along with FOX Sports and NBC Sports, announced 2017 race start times and network coverage for the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series — based on the previously released schedule dates. Through collaborative efforts with its broadcast partners, race teams and tracks, NASCAR was able to finalize full 2017 start times for all three national series almost six months earlier than in recent seasons. Seventeen national series events will start closer to primetime, helping to bring NASCAR’s photo finishes and close, side-by-side racing to larger audiences. Seventeen NASCAR Cup Series points races will air on broadcast television next year, including the DAYTONA 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on FOX; and the Brickyard 400 and the NASCAR Cup Series championship race, the Ford EcoBoost 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, on NBC. Since the initial release of the 2017 schedule, NASCAR and its partners have shifted two dates for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Road America will move to Sunday, August 27, on NBC. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park will now take place on Sunday, September 3, airing on FS1 prior to the NASCAR Cup Series event at Darlington Raceway on NBCSN. Looking ahead to the 2018 season, the DAYTONA 500 will move to Sunday, February 18, during Presidents Day weekend. NASCAR and its partners are working collaboratively on the remainder of the 2018 schedule, which will be finalized and released at a later date.(NASCAR), see Cup start times on the 2017 Cup schedule page.(7-27-2016)
Top-20 drivers in merchandise sales released: This race weekend at Pocono Raceway marks the first anniversary of the Fanatics Trackside Superstore – the reimagined and improved at-track shopping experience. The Trackside Superstore offers fans a one-stop-shop every race weekend with the largest selection of in-store NASCAR merchandise in the world. Halfway through 2016, photo finishes, side-by-side racing and record passing as the Chase spots are clinched has driven interest in the telecast and engagement on digital and social as well as in driver merchandise sales. NASCAR fans take pride in flying the colors of their favorite drivers and the first-half merchandise sales results are officially tallied. The top three drivers are no surprise with #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. leading the rankings, followed by six-time Sprint Cup Series champion #48-Jimmie Johnson and defending champion #18-Kyle Busch. With rising stars like Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, there are currently five drivers in the top-20 list who are 26 years of age or younger. The most popular products available at the Trackside Superstore include apparel, headwear and novelty items. Lionel’s 1:64 scale die-casts are up 77 percent year-over-year, one of the largest growth trends across all categories at the Trackside Superstore.(NASCAR) The top 20: #88-Earnhardt, Jr., #48-Johnson, #18-Busch, #24-Elliott, #4-Harvick, #14-Stewart, #10-Patrick, #19-Edwards, #2-Keselowski, #5-Kahne, #22-Logano, #11-Hamlin, #20-Kenseth, #78-Truex, Jr., #41-Busch, #42-Larson, #31-Newman, #3-Dillon, #21-Blaney, #1-McMurray.(NASCAR)(7-27-2016)
NASCAR would like to see better attendance, racing at IMS: NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that series officials would like to “see more fans in the stands” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but stated that “we’ve got to put on the racing people want to see.” Kyle Busch dominated Sunday’s Brickyard 400, leading 149 of 170 laps. That came a day after he won the Xfinity race there, leading all 20 laps in his heat and 62 of the 63 laps in the main event. While attendance figures are not announced, The Indianapolis Star reported that Sunday’s crowd “might not have topped 50,000” at a track that has more than 250,000 permanent seats. On the crowd, O’Donnell said: “Certainly we would like to see more fans in the stands. It’s been a struggle over the last couple of years for sure. We put a little bit on that ourselves when we had the tire issue (in 2008 where tire issues prevented any green flag stretch longer than 13 laps).
“It’s a challenging race track for us from a racing perspective. That’s no secret. So, we’ve got to balance the ability to race at that speedway but also put on a good race and balance that with the attendance. That’s an ongoing thing. We’re in discussions with Doug Boles (track president) and Mark Miles (CEO of Hulman & Company), and I know from their perspective as well, they certainly want to see folks in the stands, as do we. It’s an important market for us, but by the same token we’ve got to put on the racing that people want to see. It’s a balance, but we’ve got to make sure when we go there it’s the best of all worlds and this year was a challenge, and we want to see that turn and reverse.”
O’Donnell said that more can be done with the racing at Indianapolis: “Maybe the cars were a little bit closer together from a 1-40 standpoint, but obviously the ability to pass was a challenge, especially at the front. We’ll go back and look at what levers we can pull. We’re still evaluating 2017 (rules package), continuing on the lower (aero) trend and working with Goodyear on the tire. It’s just a real challenge in terms of the groove in the corners at Indy. It’s something we’ve got to continue to look at and see if we can, if at all, open up the ability to draft more and increase those passing zones.”(NBC Sports)(7-25-2016)
NASCAR may use more timing zones at IMS: NASCAR [emplyed] additional timing zones on pit road for [Saturday’s] NASCAR Xfinity race and if all [went] well, those timing zones will be used in Sunday’s Brickyard 400, NASCAR confirmed to NBC Sports. There were 12 timing zones along pit road – up from six previously at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There [was] be a timing zone about every 3.5 pit stalls on average. Those are being added to limit drivers accelerating toward their pit stall and passing cars. That became a bigger issue after NASCAR penalized Martin Truex Jr. for passing Kevin Harvick on pit road during the Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway earlier this month. NASCAR experimented with the additional timing lines last weekend at New Hampshire and had no issues.(NBC Sports)(7-24-2016)
Lower downforce package could return at Michigan UPDATE: The low, low downforce package was met with mixed reviews at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday – but could we see it again before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins? NASCAR will meet with team representatives on Wednesday to review the latest experience with the proposed 2017 configuration for the Cup Series to determine what, if any, changes need to be made and if the sport needs to take another run with the car prior to next season. While NASCAR has said repeatedly there will be no changes to the current 2016 rules package for the Chase, the possibility of running the lower downforce package at Michigan Speedway next month is not completely off the table. [NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller] believes the lower downforce package actually enhanced the racing on Saturday. He believes the additional grip provided by a higher-downforce package could have been a recipe for disaster. “The low, low downforce package, if that’s what we’re calling it now, helped at this race on the repave,” Miller said. “I think the corner speeds would have been extremely high, and with the higher downforce stepping out of the groove might have even had more consequences than we had (Saturday night).”(Motorsport)(7-12-2016)
UPDATE: Goodyear is planning ahead for whatever challenges NASCAR has in store for the tire manufacturer. While no decision has been made regarding which aerodynamic setup the Sprint Cup Series will return to Michigan International Speedway next month with the 2017 prototype or the current 2016 low downforce package, the tire manufacturer will be prepared. “When we tested there to come up with the package that we ran at the first Michigan (June), we tested under both conditions – both downforce settings – with that same setup,” Stu Grant, Goodyear’s General Manager of Worldwide Racing, told Motorsport.com. “We had a lot of discussions with NASCAR, ‘So what are you guys going to do rules-wise, tire-wise and so on?’ It didn’t really matter to us. We were ok on both downforce settings with that setup. So, whatever they choose, we have the tire for that. I know there’s discussion about going back there with lower downforce setting. Then there’s the school of thought, ‘Let’s get another data point and change it.’ I have not heard one way or another what the decision it, but we’re prepared both ways.”(Motorsport)(7-20-2016)
Suit filed against NASCAR, Daytona for 2015 wreck: A Florida man who alleges he was hit in the head and shoulder while shielding his wife from flying debris after Austin Dillon’s car flew into the Daytona International Speedway catch fence has filed a lawsuit against the track and NASCAR. William Fulton claims in the lawsuit, filed Monday in Florida state court in Volusia County (Fla.), that he was sitting in Row 6 when the crash happened at the finish of the July 2015 Coke Zero 400. Beyond stating in the complaint that he has not fully recovered from the injuries, Fulton did not list specific injuries in his complaint nor a specific amount being sought in damages. According to the complaint, the track, its parent company International Speedway Corp. and NASCAR, were negligent, among other things, for “failing to properly remedy known dangerous conditions following continued, numerous injuries to spectators as a result of airborne race cars crashing into the catch fences” and for “failing to conduct a thorough engineering analysis of the catch fences and pre-race inspection of the fences.” Spokesmen for NASCAR, which sanctions and operates the races, and ISC said they had no comment on the lawsuit. Fulton’s attorney, David Beers, declined comment.(ESPN.com)(7-20-2016)
NASCAR considering changes to pit road timing UPDATE: NASCAR officials are contemplating changes to their electronic timing systems in the pits at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after the controversy surrounding last week’s penalty to #78-Martin Truex Jr. Truex was penalized for passing leader Kevin Harvick Jr. on the inside while accelerating into his pit stall. The Furniture Row Racing driver said he unfairly was singled out by NASCAR on the call, noting that several other drivers have made the maneuver this season without penalty (a claim that was supported this week by video evidence). By increasing the number of timing lines, which typically split the pits into six or eight sections, it would decrease the efficacy of the practice of accelerating to enter or exit the pit stall because there would be less wiggle room for drivers. Speeding in the pits is measured by time over distance rather than in real time, so with shorter sections for monitoring, there’d be less opportunity to exceed the prescribed mph. NASCAR officials said they also are considering other methods that could be implemented in Sunday’s New Hampshire 301 and will address it in the prerace drivers meeting.(NBC Sports)(7-16-2016)
UPDATE: NASCAR experimented with extra timing loops on pit road for the Xfinity and Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a week after a penalty to Martin Truex Jr. raised questions about drivers accelerating past a competitor while heading to their pit stall. The extra timing loops were not live because NASCAR wanted to ensure they would work within the software in place. NASCAR hopes to implement the expanded system soon, a statement Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, noted Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. This isn’t the first time NASCAR has added extra timing loops at a track after questions about the issue. Jeff Gordon called for extra timing loops after the 2011 Bristol night race, saying that Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski both sped to their stalls, passing cars, once they passed the final timing line before their pit stall. Extra timing loops were in place there for the spring 2012 race. O’Donnell also asked on “The Morning Drive” if there could be another system used to better control pit road speeds by competitors. “We like the fact that it’s in the driver’s hands and team’s hands instead of flipping the switch (to run pit road speed), we feel like that is part of the NASCAR experience, NASCAR racing, but I think what you can see us go to is more consistent GPS data, which we are working hard on,” O’Donnell said. “We’re not there yet. So, short-term, it will be some additional (timing) loops. As NASCAR develops new technologies, we’re going to embrace those. It’s an area we can get more data out to the fans as well and that’s something we’re going to look at for sure and is in the works and excited about the possibilities in that space.”(NBC Sports)(7-19-2016)
Pocono Raceway, NASCAR win lawsuit on fan’s death: A Pennsylvania jury ruled Monday for Pocono Raceway and NASCAR in lawsuits brought against both by the widow of a fan killed and others injured in lightning strikes at the track on Aug. 5, 2012. The case was heard in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Brian Zimmerman, 41, of Moosic, Pa., was killed when he was struck by lightning in the parking lot behind the frontstretch grandstands. A second strike also hit the parking lot. Ten fans were injured. The three lawsuits alleged that if the race had been stopped when a severe storm warning was first issued, it would have provided sufficient time for those struck to have found proper shelter. The Trial Work Sheet in the case for all three lawsuits showed that even though the jury ruled for the defendants, it found Pocono Raceway negligent. However, on the question if “the negligence of Pocono International Raceway was a factual cause of any harm to … Brian Zimmerman,” the jury checked the box “No.” The jury also voted that way in the other two cases brought by fans injured by lightning. The jury also stated it did not find NASCAR negligent in all three cases.(NBC Sports)(7-13-2016)
Lower downforce package could return at Michigan: The low, low downforce package was met with mixed reviews at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday – but could we see it again before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins? NASCAR will meet with team representatives on Wednesday to review the latest experience with the proposed 2017 configuration for the Cup Series to determine what, if any, changes need to be made and if the sport needs to take another run with the car prior to next season. While NASCAR has said repeatedly there will be no changes to the current 2016 rules package for the Chase, the possibility of running the lower downforce package at Michigan Speedway next month is not completely off the table. [NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller] believes the lower downforce package actually enhanced the racing on Saturday. He believes the additional grip provided by a higher-downforce package could have been a recipe for disaster. “The low, low downforce package, if that’s what we’re calling it now, helped at this race on the repave,” Miller said. “I think the corner speeds would have been extremely high, and with the higher downforce stepping out of the groove might have even had more consequences than we had (Saturday night).”(Motorsport)(7-12-2016)
Cars to carry special police tribute decal at Kentucky: from NASCAR Senior Vice President Jim Cassidy’s Twitter: “The Thin Blue Line symbolizes honor to fallen law enforcement officers. Our cars will carry this emblem. #Dallas”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars will carry this decal in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway tonight, July 9, 2016
NASCAR says no aero package changes for the Chase: There will not be a change in the aerodynamic package for this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller told FOXSports.com in an exclusive interview Friday morning. This weekend at Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR is testing a new low-downforce package that was also used four weeks ago at Michigan International Speedway. If this test is successful, the Michigan/Kentucky specs will form the basis of the 2017 rules package. But won’t be used in NASCAR’s playoffs this season. “I don’t believe we’ll get to changing the Chase around,” Miller said. “The 2016 (aero) package as it is has raced really good, provided really good racing, and I don’t think that there will be any industry momentum to change the Chase around.” Miller said it was possible the package could be run again before the regular season ended, just not in the Chase. Miller said NASCAR officials were very pleased with the results they’ve gotten so far this year, when the quality of racing for the most part has been exceptional.(see full article at FoxSports)(7-9-2016)
NASCAR Season Launch Campaign Honored at 2016 CLIO Sports Awards: Inspired by the simple truth that all human beings love to race, NASCAR’s season launch marketing campaign, Ready. Set. Race, was celebrated as the winner of three Silver CLIO Sports Awards during the ceremony last night (July 7th) in New York. The overall campaign was awarded Silver honors in the Integrated Campaign category, while the unique social media promotion, the Hashtag 500, and lead creative spot were recognized in the Social Media and Film categories, respectively. Developed by Ogilvy & Mather New York, Ready. Set. Race introduced the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season leading up to the 2016 Daytona 500® through a blend of digital and social media activation, and advertising creative.
The Hashtag 500 was designed to engage fans around the Great American Race and last month garnered awards at the annual Cannes Lions festival in France. The social promotion, where fans tweeted custom hashtags to win race-used memorabilia from drivers and the Daytona 500, won a Cannes Silver Lion in the sports entertainment category, and a Cannes Bronze Lion in Digital & Social for best use of social platforms. The Ready. Set. Race campaign and “It’s In Our Blood” spot were shortlist honorees at Cannes Lions 2016.
Another NASCAR creative spot, titled “What If,” received a Bronze CLIO Sports award in the Short Form category. The 90-second spot launched in 2015 and recounts the history of NASCAR, from the earliest days of stock car racing through to today’s action-packed events at iconic race tracks like Daytona International Speedway.
Halfway through the 2016 season, the combination of great racing and a marketing strategy driven by digital and social media have helped drive fan consumption of the sport. From January through June, NASCAR has more than doubled its follower growth compared to the same period last season. In addition, engagement with social content has increased by 83 percent year-over-year, with more than 114 million total engagements. The 2016 Daytona 500 saw more NASCAR-related social conversation than any single day since the inception of the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center (FMEC). Social conversation was up 44 percent compared to last year’s race. The Hashtag 500 fan race on Twitter to win Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s firesuit generated the most NASCAR-related mentions in one minute (13,000) since the inception of the FMEC.(NASCAR)(7-9-2016)
NASCAR on Jeopardy: NASCAR played a significant role in the popular game show “Jeopardy” on Monday, July 4. One of the categories on the show was “NASCAR Technologies.”
Here were the questions:
For $200: “The tires used in NASCAR have another tire within them for safety reasons and are filled with this gas, symbol ‘N,’ because it contains less moisture than air and the tire pressure doesn’t change as much in a race.”
For $400: “The window net used to prevent injuries by keeping a driver’s arms inside the car during a crash became mandatory after this NASCAR legend known as ‘King Richard’ almost died in a 1970 wreck at Darlington.”
For $600: “Engines with carburetors ruled NASCAR for decades, but since 2012 all cars have been equipped with ‘EFI,’ electronic ‘this,’ because it’s more efficient and produces a better air/gas mixture.”
For $800: “‘Banking’ is the degree of incline of a racetrack’s surface which allows the cars to go faster in the turns with minimal lateral slippage. While Daytona has a 31% bank, Will Ferrell could tell you that this Alabama speedway is even steeper at 33%.”
For $1,000: “Also known as ‘the blade,’ this strip of metal on the rear deck lid is designed to create downforce on the rear of the car to increase traction, but it has to be angled just right so it doesn’t hinder speed on the straightaways.”
And the answers:
$200: “What is nitrogen?”
$400: “Who is Richard Petty?”
$600: “What is fuel injection?”
$800: “What is Talladega?”
$1000: “What is a spoiler?”
NASCAR To Honor Victims Of Orlando Tragedy: Following the recent attack in the Orlando community, NASCAR has shared plans to remember the victims of this tragedy during the race weekend at Daytona International Speedway. The #ORLANDOUNITED decal shown below will be placed on the A-Post of all cars in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
How to make Unlimited, All-Star Race more ‘prestigious’: How can NASCAR make the Sprint All-Star Race and the Sprint Unlimited more prestigious and interesting for fans? Drivers mulled that during Thursday night’s Sprint Cup Drivers Council meeting, Denny Hamlin said. The answer could be limiting the field for both races. “Trying to make it as prestigious as it probably used to be,” Hamlin said Friday of the goal for both races. “It expanded over the last few years, the Unlimited especially, and even our All-Star event. It’s over half the field, not really that prestigious. We’d like to get some of that back. If you tighten up how you get in, maybe these guys will keep that in the back of their mind when going for a pole and they’ll go for it. You can tighten it up by making it a certain way to get in. The fan vote and all that stuff is cool, but it’s also gimmicky and gets a lot of people in versus making it the true race winners or pole winners.” The Sprint Unlimited, held the week before the Daytona 500, and Sprint All-Star Race, run the weekend before the Coca-Cola 600, will have new names next year with the series getting a new title sponsor.(NBC Sports)(7-2-2016)
Kennedy & Patrick named in ADWEEK’S ’30 Most Powerful Women in Sports’: Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of International Speedway Corporation and Vice Chairperson of NASCAR, was named one of ADWEEK’S ’30 Most Powerful Women in Sports’ in their July issue, on newsstands June 27. The inaugural ’30 Most Powerful Women in Sports’ list is presented in ADWEEK’S annual Sports Issue. Kennedy is featured along with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver #10-Danica Patrick, and other elite athletes, league executives, sports media personalities and sports marketing executives. The winners will be celebrated during the Clio Sports gala in New York on July 7th.(ISC and ADWEEK)(6-27-2016)
Brian France talks about weekday races, new Cup sponsor, road course in Chase and more: NASCAR Chairman Brian France appeared on Fox Sports 1’s “Race Day” before Sunday’s race at Sonoma, some of the Q&A’s:
Cup Series Title Sponsor hunt:
Q. The title sponsor, Sprint, has been for Cup a tremendous ally, and it runs out this year. Who’s the next title sponsor for the Sprint Cup Series?
BRIAN FRANCE: Several companies here as a matter of fact this weekend, a number of companies taking a very hard look. It’s a very special asset in sports. It’s the only thing you can own outright. So we have a lot of interest, and we just want to make a good decision as we go down the stretch and choose our next partner.
Q. Is there a possibility of two major sponsors?
BRIAN FRANCE: Possible, but I think we have a lot of interest and I would be surprised, but I’ve been surprised before.
Q. Is there a deadline for you on this? Obviously you have to get it — the sooner the better.
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, we’re right on schedule. We always thought it would be somewhere coming up into the fall, and that’s exactly what’s happened, so we’re right on schedule.
Q. A road course in the Chase in the future?
BRIAN FRANCE: We would be for it. The reality is it’s very hard to get the schedule to match up.
Q. More weeknight races maybe, changing on the schedule?
BRIAN FRANCE: Don’t see that.
Q. Not even in the summer when people are out of —
BRIAN FRANCE: Don’t see that.
Moving All-Star race:
Q. All-Star Race location maybe on a rotational basis, maybe a new sponsor says, hey, maybe in Charlotte this year, but it might be at another track next year?
BRIAN FRANCE: Maybe, and there’s a lot of interest in that very interesting event, and Charlotte has been good to us for a lot of reasons, but we’ll always keep that open.(NASCAR)(6-27-2016)
Microsoft and NASCAR team up, new system debut’s at Sonoma: Microsoft and NASCAR have worked in concert to develop a race management system that will consolidate six different aspects of race-day data into a single-screen interface, providing one platform for data management using Windows 10 and Microsoft Azure. The system, which is being rolled out this weekend at Sonoma Raceway, will revolutionize the way NASCAR runs races, both in terms of the inspection process and data analytics. “NASCAR has really put an emphasis, especially over the last 18 months, on new technology,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said Friday morning during a press briefing at Sonoma. (It involves) how we can bring things more quickly to the fans, really put them inside the driver’s seat, but equally as important, how we can work together to be more efficient from a governing standpoint, especially when it comes to race control. We’re really proud to have partnered with Microsoft, obviously a global leader in technology. What they’ve been able to do for us in a really short 18-month time span is incredible.” From the single-screen interface, officials can follow the positions of every car in the field using a layout of the track, or they can isolate individual cars or groups of cars by category (top 10 or lead lap, for example). Data for the individual cars also is available, as are video captures of pit stops and potential pit road penalties. The partnership with Microsoft will even help inform NASCAR with respect to new rules decisions.(NASCAR Wire Service)(6-25-2016)
No Aero Changes for Daytona: NASCAR will return to Daytona International Speedway next week with the same basic aerodynamic package that it used for the Daytona 500 and Talladega earlier this year. After three cars got airborne at Talladega, NASCAR vowed to take a look too see if it should make any changes to the cars. Six days before cars are scheduled for practice at Daytona, NASCAR opted not to make any changes, executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said. “The one car that got in the air on its own was the 20 car [of Matt Kenseth] and we looked at that. … Based on what we saw for the initial Daytona race, we’re satisfied with the race package we have,” O’Donnell said Friday at Sonoma Raceway. Drivers obviously don’t want their cars to get airborne, but they also don’t agree on the fix needed. NASCAR has some new rules as far as the bolting on the deck lid for Daytona, but that has more to do with teams working in that area to get a speed advantage. NASCAR slightly decreased the amount of horsepower generated by Sprint Cup cars at restrictor-plate tracks for the 2016 season.(ESPN)(6-25-2016)
NASCAR satisfied with downforce package at Michigan: The new lower-downforce aerodynamic package under evaluation for 2017 got its first test in a points race at Michigan, and NASCAR officials liked what they saw in the 400-miler. “It was definitely different than we’ve seen here before, a lot of action on the restarts, a lot of movement there,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition. “Obviously, we all watched it get strung out a little bit, which we weren’t hoping for longer into the runs. I think we saw a lot of things that we liked, some other things that may need a little bit of reevaluating, but I think overall, for such a big move in downforce, that it was a really pretty successful day and something that we can build on.” If the new configuration, or a variation thereof, is adopted for next year, Goodyear will have time to build a tire designed for the new package and the track. “I think we probably need to come back to a bit more work on the tires, which these tires have not been tuned to this package, so we’ll work with our Goodyear folks,” said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR senior vice president, innovation and racing development. “Probably a bit handicapped by the entry speeds being pretty high (reaching roughly 218 mph), so still that creates some aero effects, so that’s something we’ll look at. “But again, this has been planned as a two to three step process. We’re off to Kentucky (for an organizational test on Monday and Tuesday), and then we’ll be on the track at Kentucky (July 9)-shorter track, lower speeds and all that, so we’ll see how that all comes together.”(NASCAR Wire Service)(6-13-2016)
Drivers hopeful new rules mean better racing at Michigan: Optimism remains high for the lower downforce rules package in place for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. “Well, I think that we made a pretty good step forward with the move we made from the 2015 to the 2016 package,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR vice president of competition. “For aerodynamics in making more competitive racing and closer competition, more passes for the lead. In most cases all the metrics we looked at have been better in those areas. So this is just another step toward, again, creating closer competition and great racing that the fans and the media and everybody wants to see. We want to see that really bad, and I think this direction has been something that’s been embraced by the drivers, and actually we’ve worked together with them to land here and try this for this year as a potential way to move forward with closer competition.”
Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions saw higher speeds through both the corners and down the straightaways with average speeds topping 200 mph. However, while reaction has been mostly favorable, there is still much to be observed before gauging whether the rules are successfully reaching goals.
“And as far as today, I think it’s difficult to visually see the difference, but when you look at the data from the cars, the speed trace is significantly different, the mid corner speeds are down a lot, the entry speeds are up a little,” Miller explained. “And from some of the driver comments, having to use the brakes pretty hard and maybe even thinking about needing brake cooling and everything at a big track like this is a departure from where we’ve been before, and we’re really hoping that those things actually produce a really, really good race on Sunday.”
But as of now, it’s still very much a guessing game. “What I’m anticipating is hopefully a lot of slipping and sliding; a loss of momentum, and the ability to stack up some guys and to get a big run from third, fourth, fifth on back,” Kurt Busch said. “That’s what we hope we see and that we don’t have a leader that just gets out there and then we’re not able to chase him down. And then the restarts are going to be that much more exciting because of the lack of downforce and how stable will the cars be side-by-side? Nobody knows that yet.”(Motor Racing Network)
AND NASCAR Sprint Cup owner Jack Roush was not happy with the series’ decision to use new rules to the aerodynamic package to further reduce downforce and sideforce for this weekend’s FireKeepers Casino 400 race at Michigan International Speedway. “It’s different from what it was, no doubt,” said the 74-year-old Roush of the new rules package. “Nobody had been on the race track with this package before. Everybody is struggling to find out where the sensitive adjustments are. The car has not been as loose as we expected. We thought that the problem would be flying out from underneath of you, loose on exit and entry. The entry has been a little bit of a problem, but the exit and center has not been a bigger problem than normal.” Roush’s three-car team of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (12th), Trevor Bayne (13th) and Greg Biffle (18th) all qualified outside the top-10 Friday.(Detroit News)(6-12-2016)
Inspection problems delay Sprint Cup qualifying at Michigan: The #78 Furniture Row Racing crew members were in a bit of a frenzy during Friday’s Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Michigan International Speedway: Crew chief Cole Pearn sprinted through the garage, as other crew members worked quickly on the #78 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., trying to get it on track in time for qualifying’s opening round. The #78 wasn’t alone — Multiple trips through inspection for several Sprint Cup teams caused a backup in the queue that caused NASCAR to push knockout qualifying from 4:15 to 4:30pm/et. According to FS1, 12 cars had yet to clear inspection by the original start time. Scott Miller, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition, told FS1 that he believed teams were having trouble with new aerodynamic rules that eliminate rear-axle offset or “skew.” That tweak (along with other aero changes) were used in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race; they will also be in effect for this weekend’s race and next month’s 400-miler at Kentucky Speedway. Brad Keselowski, whose car was one of the 12 held up in the line, said “no one (could) pass laser” inspection, which caused the blockage.(NASCAR.com)(6-10-2016)
Penalties for loose and missing lug nuts will continue: NASCAR has no plans to change its penalty structure for missing or non-secure lug nuts it sees postrace. NASCAR has issued one-week suspensions to four crew chiefs since instituting its new rules five weeks ago. But NASCAR Senior VP Scott Miller said the sanctioning body continues to work in hopes of using technology to be able to determine if the lug nuts are tight when the car leaves pit road.(ESPN.com)(6-11-2016)
NASCAR, RISE unveil campaign to promote sports equality: NASCAR and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) announced a new campaign to promote diversity, inclusion and equality within and outside of sports. A public service announcement (PSA) featuring several NASCAR drivers will encourage fans to take the pledge to end racism at RISEtoWin.org. The PSA features six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, 2015 Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano, 2014 Coke Zero 400 winner Aric Almirola and NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduates Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr. The PSA will air during NASCAR national series races this weekend on FS1. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France is a founding member of the RISE Board of Directors and has helped steer the growing initiative, which was founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. Last fall, NASCAR joined several major sports leagues in partnering with the new alliance of top leagues, associations, media networks and educators. In the PSA, NASCAR drivers invite sports fans to take the pledge to treat everyone with respect and dignity, and to speak up whenever they know discrimination is happening.(NASCAR)(6-11-2016)
New Rules Package Additions Debut at Michigan: NASCAR will debut rules updates for this Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway and use them again in the July 9 contest at Kentucky Speedway. The rules package developments are part of an industry-wide collaboration to further enhance the racing. Recently, welded truck trailing arms and new brake cooling rules were put into place. The following updates to the rules package will be added at Michigan and Kentucky to further reduce downforce and sideforce:
• Reduce skew generated sideforce by setting rear toe to zero (same rule used in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race)
• Aero package tweaks to reduce aero-generated downforce and sideforce
• Spoiler shortened from 3.5 inches to 2.5 inches
• Splitter reduced to 2 inches
• Resize of deck fin to match spoiler
The current rules package has generated some of the closest racing in years through the first 14 races of 2016. Highlights include three races setting track records for green flag passes for the lead, as well as two races featuring the seventh-closest margin of victory in NSCS history (since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993).(NASCAR)(6-9-2016)
Cars that have gone to NASCAR’s R&D Center: Each race, NASCAR takes at least two Sprint Cup cars back to its R&D Center for further inspection. The winner of each races goes except for the Daytona 500 winner (inspection is completed at the track because the winning car remains in Daytona for a year after that race). The runner-up also goes to the R&D Center. At times, NASCAR selects a random car as well. Here’s how many times each car has gone to the R&D Center:
#18-Kyle Busch – 5 times (Kansas, Talladega, Richmond, Texas, Martinsville)
#4-Kevin Harvick – 5 times (Coke 600, Kansas, Auto Club, Phoenix, Daytona 500
#22-Joey Logano – 3 times (All-Star, Las Vegas, Daytona 500)
#2-Brad Keselowski – 3 times (All-Star, Talladega, Las Vegas)
#19-Carl Edwards – 3 times (Richmond, Bristol, Phoenix)
#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 3 times (Bristol, Texas, Atlanta)
#78-Martin Truex Jr. – 2 times (Coke 600, Daytona 500)
#48-Jimmie Johnson – 2 times (Auto Club, Atlanta)
#5-Kasey Kahne – 2 times (Dover, Las Vegas)
#16-Greg Biffle – 1 time (Coke 600)
#47-A.J. Allmendinger – 1 time (Martinsville)
#20-Matt Kenseth – 1 time (Dover)
#42-Kyle Larson – 1 time (Dover)
So that’s a tally of 14 Chevrolets, 11 Toyotas and 8 Fords since the Daytona 500.(NBC Sports)(5-31-2016)
NASCAR heading “back to the drawing board” to improve racing on 1.5 mile tracks: Executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said #78-Martin Truex Jr.’s dominant victory in the Coca-Cola 600 has NASCAR heading “back to the drawing board” to improve its 1.5-mile racing. O’Donnell, the chief racing development officer for NASCAR, credited Truex and Furniture Row Racing for its “blowout” victory in which the #78 Toyota led a record 392 of 400 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “Certainly great for Martin Truex Jr. and the race team and Furniture Row and (owner) Barney Visser,” O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR’s “The Morning Drive” in his weekly appearance. “But also certainly a challenging race for us and things we’ve already learned and going to back to the drawing board, and one of our stated goals is passing up front. That was not what we saw (Sunday) night. Not to take anything away from Martin. He had the car to beat, and he didn’t give it up all night long.” The quality of racing was in contrast to the Sprint All-Star Race the previous week on the same track. NASCAR changed its rear-toe alignment rules for the All-Star Race, restricting the amount of “skew” teams can employ to improve handling and stability. As a result, there hardly were any spins in the longest race of the season as several drivers said their cars felt more comfortable on the 1.5-mile oval. O’Donnell said NASCAR used different rules in successive weekends at Charlotte to prove out whether the changes had a significant impact. Nearly four hours of mostly lackluster racing Sunday affirmed that. “That’s one of the reasons we ran two different things to have some comparative data,” O’Donnell said. “We saw some really good things with the skew we had for the All-Star Race. It’s something we can immediately pull the lever on.” NASCAR already announced last week that the skew rules from the All-Star Race would be used for the June 12 race at Michigan International Speedway and the July 9 event at Kentucky Speedway. O’Donnell also said NASCAR would look at finding ways to improve tire wear in night races, which typically have cooler track conditions. “More so than anything, you immediately look at the partnership with Goodyear and what we need to do to really look at how we wear tires as much as possible, particularly at night races,” he said. “We can go to work on that. Goodyear has been a great partner this year from the rules package and matching that up. We’ve seen some really strong results, particularly in the day races. Obviously, we’ve got some things to look at as we look at some of the future night races and see what we can do with that tire combination and the rules package.”(NBC Sports)(5-31-2016)
Drivers warned about speeding on pit road: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers were warned to keep their speeds down if they are forced to pit road to avoid an incident on Sunday during the drivers’ meeting prior to Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. “During yesterday’s (NASCAR XFINITY Series) race, we had certain circumstances with cars coming down pit road to avoid an incident,” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Managing Director Richard Buck said. “We are and still will continue to investigate ways to improve our process, but let me remind us of our rule as it is and will be officiated tonight. If you are forced down pit road to avoid an incident, you must reduce your speed as you travel the entire length of pit road. We will blend you off the end of pit road like a pit camera. You do not retain your position on the track.”
“If you forced down pit road, it’s a safety issue,” Buck said. “We need you to reduce your speed. The walls are shorter there. There are gaps that are open. We have officials and fans that are there. We need to see that your speed has significantly reduced as you travel the full length. It will be a judgment call from the tower.” Buck also asked drivers and spotters to “communicate and get lined up as quickly as possible” when the tower calls out the lineup under caution. “That will allow us to verify the correct lineup and not have to take any further action.”
There will be a competition caution on or around Lap 25 of the 400-lap race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.(NASCAR)(5-29-2016)
Rules changes for Kentucky, Michigan races: Changes to the rear spoiler, front splitter and rear deck fin will be put into play for two upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races as the sanctioning body continues to reduce aerodynamic downforce and sideforce in an effort to promote closer competition on the race track. The changes, announced Thursday morning, will be in effect only for upcoming races at Michigan in June and Kentucky in July and are in addition to previous adjustments made by the officials in recent weeks. Initial moves implemented before the start of the season combined with a Goodyear tire matched more closely to the lower downforce package have resulted in closer competition through the season’s first 12 races.
Why more chnages? “I think we look at it as a never-ending journey; if we can improve we’re going to do that,” Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president of competition and chief racing development officer said. “We wanted to go the direction of low downforce, see how that worked, not kind of go all the way in and hope that we are directionally right. And we are seeing that play out. We’ve seen some great racing at the beginning of the year. But we also knew that we had some more levers that we could pull if the direction kind of proved out, so we’ve tried some of those things. We’ve tested it and what we’ve also wanted to do is lower some of the corner speeds to allow for even more passing. That was one of the areas where we’ve seen minimal change, but there are some levers we can pull to really drive that down.”
The changes for those races consist of a reduction in spoiler height from 3.5 inches to 2.5 inches, a splitter reduction of two inches and a re-sizing of the rear deck fin to complement the spoiler change. Beginning with this year’s race at Kansas Speedway, NASCAR required teams to weld truck arm mounts; for the recently completed Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, downforce-generating electric fans were removed and the rear toe alignment was reset to zero to reduce sideforce. The changes to truck arm mounts and fans are to remain in place for the remainder of the 2016 season. The rear toe adjustment was initially only in play for the All-Star event but now will be incorporated into the June Michigan and July Kentucky races. Downforce is the pressure created across the surface of a vehicle at speed. Likewise, sideforce is generated by the flow of air along the sides of the vehicle.
O’Donnell said limiting the latest changes to two upcoming races is beneficial in two ways: Teams have spent plenty of time in development of setups with the initial base package and that information will still be relevant; and focusing on two tracks will give teams and officials much-needed information as they look ahead to 2017. “We have worked collectively on some directions we want to go in, but to do that right we think the final step is to let that play out on one or two tracks,” he said. “And these are the two — Kentucky and Michigan — that we’ve played out and let the teams concentrate really on what they’ve done to prepare for the year. We think that’s manageable and that’ll give us enough data to look at for 2017.”(NASCAR)(5-26-2016)
NASCAR to Honor Fallen U.S. Armed Forces Members with Windshield Tribute at Charlotte: Continuing the sport’s long-standing tradition of honoring the United States Armed Forces, all 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will bear the name of a fallen service member on their race car windshields during Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. For the second consecutive year, “600 Miles of Remembrance” will pay tribute this Memorial Day Weekend to those who bravely served and died defending our country. Windshield headers normally reserved for drivers’ last names will read “SGT HARVEY,” “LCPL RAMIREZ,” and “SPC BEAUDOIN,” among other names of the fallen. The special tribute will commemorate the launch of NASCAR: An American Salute, the industry’s collective expression of respect and gratitude for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, past and present. Fans can follow the conversation on social media using #NASCARSalutes.
Many of the service members whose names will be displayed on the race cars were chosen by the teams, and some have unique connections to the fallen. Toyota will also honor the names of fallen service members on its pace cars and grand marshal cars for the Coca-Cola 600 as part of 600 Miles of Remembrance. Many of the families of the service members being recognized will be in attendance at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The track will host more than 6,000 active military members at the Coca-Cola 600 in honor of Memorial Day.
Throughout the week, NASCAR: An American Salute will feature various activities demonstrating the industry’s support for the military, including:
· During Saturday’s Hisense 4K TV 300, NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers will display red, white and blue XFINITY windshield decals on their race cars.
· Goodyear will replace the “Eagle” sidewall design with “Support Our Troops” messaging on all tires used during the Memorial Day Weekend races.
· NASCAR, Coca-Cola and Mars, through the annual military support program, DeCA, will offer a sweepstakes to shoppers at more than 180 commissaries who will have a chance to win a trip for two to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week in Las Vegas. The kickoff event will take place at Fort Bragg on May 25 and feature #11 Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin. The 2016 DAYTONA 500 winner will tour the Warrior Transition Battalion Unit and visit with families at the South Commissary.
· In partnership with Operation Gratitude, Mars will invite race fans to help assemble care packages for the troops in the midway at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The care packages will include Mars candy and be shipped following the Coca-Cola 600 to deployed military members.
· NASCAR and Honor and Remember, Inc. will display specially prepared Honor and Remember flags representing those who lost their life in service to our country from each of the 50 United States throughout the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
During the Coca Cola 600 pre-race broadcast, FOX Sports will recognize all service members who have lost their lives in the past year by displaying their names and branch of service on a graphic scroll. This Sunday, NASCAR drivers will discuss 600 Miles of Remembrance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (channel 90) during a special military tribute show airing at 1:00pm/et. The Dialed In Salute to the Troops special, hosted by Claire B. Lang, will feature interviews with several drivers as well as service men and service women from different branches of the military. To view an online gallery of the service members honored as part of 600 Miles of Remembrance, visit NASCAR.com/salute.(NASCAR), see the names on the Charlotte Entry List page (5-23-2016)
NASCAR Comments about All-Star race confusion: NASCAR attempted a new Sprint All-Star Race format to increase passing in the final green-lap dash to the finish and succeeded, as Joey Logano outmaneuvered Kyle Larson with two laps remaining to win the $1 million exhibition race. But a whole lot of confusion reigned before the outcome Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway (ESPN)
AND: The complex format, the brainchild of Logano’s Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski, was thwarted by a scenario that NASCAR admitted no one saw coming. “It’s just very unfortunate that this situation cropped up and a lot of people walked away from here disappointed,” NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said. “We’re disappointed as well.”
The situation was complicated, but here’s an attempt to explain:
Drivers were required to make a pit stop under the green flag within the first 50 laps of the first segment.
All of the drivers did that except for Matt Kenseth, who was still on the track as the race leader when Jamie McMurray suddenly spun out and caused a caution with a few laps left in the segment.
As a result, there wasn’t enough time for Kenseth to make a green-flag stop. He was penalized one lap for not taking tires and forced to pit.
Since Kenseth was technically the race leader – even though it was illegally so – it meant nearly half the field was trapped one lap down and unable to take the wavearound.
That left drivers confused as to what their position on the track was. They were upset because it was a different procedure than NASCAR would use in a normal race, and it muddied the setup for the final segment. After all, the entire idea of the 2016 format was to have fast cars with new tires start behind a bunch of slower cars on old tires. But instead of a bunch, there were only two – Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. What should NASCAR have done? It should have held Kenseth a lap, let the field come back around and then opened the pits. The cars would have unlapped themselves and returned to the lead lap while Kenseth would have been one lap down.
“Hindsight is really easy, and we didn’t really have a mechanism (to correct the situation) in our race procedures,” Miller said.(USA Today)
AND: “We have, obviously, a format we have never done before,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition. “We worked diligently trying to come up with every scenario and an answer for every scenario that might crop up. We ran into a situation where our race procedure didn’t give us the opportunity for a wave-around and it created a lot of confusion.”(NBC Sports)(5-22-2016)
Are teams playing games with lugnut rule? NASCAR initiated a rule that teams must now have all five lug nuts “installed in a safe and secure manner throughout all national series events.” The new rules went into effect two weeks ago at Talladega Superspeedway. Immediately following that race, NASCAR secured the cars coming off the track onto pit road and checked the security of the lug nuts. A similar procedure was in place at Kansas Speedway last weekend, and NASCAR cleared all cars during post-race inspection. But that didn’t stop conspiracy theorists from debating whether Saturday night’s winning driver, Kyle Busch, had five lug nuts tight on all four wheels of his #18 Toyota at Kansas Speedway. Photos – though inconclusive – appeared on social media showing Busch’s wheels, and there was plenty of comment on the internet claiming the photos show all the lugs on Busch’s car weren’t tight.
The discussion continued on Tuesday when Joe Piette Jr., pit crew coach for Stewart-Haas Racing, was a guest on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Piette indicated his belief that certain lugs indeed weren’t tight. “Obviously, they took it a step further than having to have five lug nuts tight, if you will. But they had five installed. So no harm, no foul.
Rumors abound of teams attempting to game the system. When Piette was asked whether teams had considered using an unthreaded lug nut and simply gluing it to the hub, the veteran coach replied, “That’s a loaded question.” However, he added, “It’s absolutely possible. If you haven’t, I don’t think you’re a true racer.”(Motorsport)(5-11-2016)
Chase round ‘bye’ for regular season champ? Could the regular-season champion earn a bye to the second round of the Chase? Former series champ Brad Keselowski says drivers have discussed ways to reward the points leader more after the 26-race regular season. A bye is one such idea. Keselowski, who has two victories this season, admits an early win can give a driver a new perspective on the regular season. “I think clearly the sport is lacking some motivation once you’ve won a race,” Keselowski told reporters Monday at Team Penske’s shop. “I don’t think there’s any question that most of the competitors in the sport feel like that is not advantageous for a product we’re trying to put on and have floated some ideas to level that back out that maybe some people will like and maybe some won’t. We’ll have to see.” It also seems to have impacted fans. In a conference call with industry analysts last month, an International Speedway Corp., executive said the focus on the Chase may be playing a role in fans purchasing tickets for those events instead of races earlier in the season. What would be a good reward for the regular-season champion? “I think a bye is a good word for it,” Keselowski said. “As we’re trying to emulate other sports and major playoffs, I think it makes sense as it does for them.”(NBC Sports)(5-11-2016)
NASCAR watching bodywork modifications: Two instances of bodywork modification — one mid-race, one post-race — caught the eye of NASCAR officials during last Saturday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, detailed those circumstances in a Monday morning appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Morning Drive” program. Kyle Busch scored his third Sprint Cup victory of the season in Saturday night’s GoBowling 400, breaking an 0-for-16 drought at the 1.5-mile Kansas City track, historically a stumbling block for the reigning series champ. Busch’s exuberant post-race burnout shredded the right-rear tire, causing significant damage to the fender of the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Toyota.
“We really don’t like to see that happen,” Miller told SiriusXM. “There was a little bit of a rash of it last year and we kind of got that in check, and this is the first time we’ve seen it in a while. We certainly don’t like to see it, but I believe Kyle was very happy because he’s really, really struggled at that race track and he just got a little overzealous there with the celebration. We’ve had a lot of JGR cars through NASCAR, so we have a pretty good idea of what they’re doing with their stuff so I don’t … it’s not that suspicious to me, really.”
The other bodywork issue that drew officials’ attention, Miller said, involved the Chip Ganassi Racing #1 Chevrolet for driver Jamie McMurray . The team was flagged on Lap 30 in the 267-lap race for unapproved adjustments to the car’s body during a pit stop. Miller used a football analogy to describe the alteration.
“We’ve gone to great lengths to get bracing in the side of the cars and define how all the parts and pieces have gotta be, and that’s for one reason — so that the sides don’t cave in and the quarterpanels don’t cave in,” Miller said. “Their jackman looked like an offensive lineman throwing a block at the side of their car, so it caved the side in. We saw it, didn’t like it, and back down pit road they came to fix it. That’s just how it works. You can’t pull on the skirts or cave the sides in or alter the body of the car on pit road, and that’s what they did.”(NASCAR.com)(5-10-2016)
New rules package contributing to closer races: NASCAR drivers and fans alike have heralded the quality of racing this season, and there are plenty of statistics to reinforce their empirical observations. Seven of the first nine races featured victory margins of less than one second, the exceptions being Atlanta, which ended under caution after 28 lead changes, and Texas, where Kyle Busch pulled away to win by 3.904 seconds after 17 lead changes. The seven races decided by less than a second are the most through nine events since the introduction of electronic timing and scoring.
Three races this year have set records for green-flag passes for the lead, a loop data statistic that includes intra-lap passes: Atlanta (44), Auto Club Speedway (51) and Bristol (40).
The 10th race of the season, Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, featured 213 green-flag passes for the lead, the second most since the inception of loop data in 2005 and only the second time that number has topped 200. The record of 219 was set at Talladega in October 2013.
By all accounts, the new lower-downforce competition package NASCAR has implemented this season has made a huge difference. Another contributing factor is the job Goodyear has done in matching tires chosen for particular tracks with the lower-downforce rules package. Drivers and crew chiefs have long advocated for greater fall-off throughout a fuel run, and the racing this year has enhanced that aspect of competition. The new package also has reduced the effect of “aero-push,” which in the past inhibited drivers’ ability to approach and pass a slightly slower car.(NASCAR Wire Service)(5-5-2016)
NASCAR will examine Talladega accidents; Dale Jr’s steering wheel: NASCAR is looking into what led cars to get airborne Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway and will investigate what caused Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s steering wheel to detach after his second wreck, a NASCAR executive told “The Morning Drive” on Monday. “Some really intense racing all throughout the day, and some things we didn’t like with cars getting up in the air and we’re already fast at work at the R&D Center, looking at all the video we have,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We’ll reach out to the teams to see what we can do to immediately take some action to work towards correcting that.” Chris Buescher’s car tumbled down the backstretch after being hit by another car, and Matt Kenseth’s car was sent airborne after contact turned his car sideways and the air picked his vehicle up. Neither driver was injured in the separate incidents. “You never want to see that,” O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about those incidents. “So you immediately work on is everybody safe, did the safety equipment do it’s job and what we can learn from that. The immediate steps are to review all the media shots that we have of those incidents, work with the race teams and then look at what may or may not be different from when we’ve been not only at Talladega but any other race track.
“That will be all of our process in sitting down and reviewing that,” O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. That also will include looking at what happened to Earnhardt’s steering wheel. Earnhardt’s teammate, Jimmie Johnson, had a steering wheel come off at Phoenix, leading to his crash in qualifying there. O’Donnell was asked if Earnhardt’s issue was isolated or something more.
“Even if it is an isolated incident, we’ll look at it,” O’Donnell said. “It could be something that could cause issues down the road if it was a trend. We’ll talk to (Earnhardt) and his team and make sure hopefully that was just what you said initially an isolated incident and go from there, but if there is anything we can take from that, we will certainly communicate that to all the teams. It’s not something you want to see, especially potentially at speed.”(NBC Sports)(5-2-2016)
Brian France attends Drivers Council meeting: NASCAR chairman Brian France was busy meeting with drivers Friday, first privately with Tony Stewart and then he attended his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers Council meeting Friday night at Talladega Superspeedway. France was criticized by Stewart in January for not going to the meetings, which typically are attended by other NASCAR top executives. Stewart also was fined $35,000 last week for the tone of comments critical of NASCAR’s commitment to safety in reference to its not policing whether lug nuts are tight on wheels. “It was very productive and at least from Brian’s perspective, it was well done and he was happy he did it,” NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said late Friday night. The meeting with the nine-member drivers council was held in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage and went past the time the garage was closed for the night. As he waited for a gate to be unlocked so he could leave the garage, France was asked if he delivered a message to the drivers. “No, we just had a good discussion,” France said about the drivers council meeting. The meeting went on for nearly two more hours after France left for another commitment. NASCAR spokesman David Higdon would not go into specific topics but said the meeting covered items for 2016 and 2017 and there were not discussions about Stewart’s fine.(ESPN.com)(4-30-2016)
France explains why Stewart was fined: Tony Stewart said Sunday that he wasn’t sure why he was fined $35,000 last week by NASCAR after comments he made about officials not requiring teams to tighten all five lug nuts on each wheel. NASCAR Chairman Brian France told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday that Stewart’s fine was based on what he said and how he said it. “Tony has been very aware of how we approach from a criticism standpoint of the sport and the product of the racing itself and safety is paramount,” France told host Dave Moody. “Tony is very aware of how we look at that.”
France explained on “SiriusXM Speedway” how Stewart crossed the line. “I think we have to make judgment calls and how we look at the tone of what someone says, how they’re saying it,” France said. “They have ample opportunities, particularly with safety, to deal with us directly on that. But to insinuate that we’re taking the sport down a road that doesn’t care about safety or we’re trying to hurt people, those kind of comments, that goes to the integrity of the sport and we’ll have to deal with that. We go way beyond what any other league would allow in terms of how far people can go in voicing their view. There’s just a little line out there that is a bright line and everybody is aware of. Every once in a while we’ll have a driver or somebody else that gets over that line and we’ll just have to deal with it. It’s not a big thing. We deal with it. They understand it and we move on. That’s how it goes.”(NBC Sports)(4-26-2016)
NASCAR will require teams to tighten all lugnuts UPDATE: NASCAR sent a memo to teams on Monday updating the NASCAR rulebook that all 5 lug nuts are now required to be installed:
.a All tires, wheels, and all five lugnuts must be installed in a safe and secure manner at all times during the event.
.b NASCAR reserves the right at any time to require any Competitor to report to pit road to inspect for any noncompliance.
.c Any loss of a wheel(s) beyond the exit of pit road may result in a penalty…
Violation of the section, resulting in the loss of a wheel, could result in a mandatory minimum four race suspention of the crew chief and tire changer and tire carrier.(4-25-2016)
UPDATE: NASCAR’s updated rule states that if any missing lug nuts are found on a wheel before the race it must be corrected immediately and is listed as an unapproved adjustment, forcing the competitor to start at the rear. Any tire intended for race use without all five lug nuts glued to the wheel must be fixed immediately. If the issue is found after a Sprint Cup race, the crew chief will be suspended for one race, placed on probation and fined $20,000 on the first offense. Multiple events will result in escalated penalties. The penalty in the Xfinity Series is a one-race suspension for the crew chief, probation and a $10,000 fine. In the Camping World Truck Series, the penalty is a one-race suspension, probation and a $5,000 fine.(NBC Sports)
AND: “Our job is whenever there’s a safety improvement to make or a policy to enhance things, we will just do that,” NASCAR CEO Brian France said Monday during an interview with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s as simple as that. There’s not a controversial thing. Our whole system is based on safe and competitive racing. If we can make an adjustment to make things safer, we just simply will.”
NASCAR will take another look at lug nut rules: In the face of increasing driver criticism about safety, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said Friday afternoon that the sanctioning body will re-examine its lug nut rules. “Until this point, we’ve never really had too much trouble,” said Miller. Miller said Friday that NASCAR will continue to engage in discussions with the teams and drivers and decide whether a change needs to be made. “Since the drivers are now questioning it, it’s time for us to kind of re-evaluate our position and work with the community on looking at possibly different ways to enforce the pit-road rules,” Miller said. Miller did not off a timetable for evaluating the rules. “The teams are obviously pushing harder than they ever have in this area,” said Miller. “And it’s time for us to take a look at it, but we’ll do that as an industry. The open dialog is very good right now between NASCAR and the teams, so we’ll work internally and with them to move forward here.”(Fox Sports)(4-22-2016)
Hamlin comments on driver council’s reaction to Stewart fine: #11-Denny Hamlin was made available to the media at Richmond International Raceway Friday afternoon.
Q: Why did the driver’s council make the statement supporting Tony Stewart’s comments?
Hamlin: “I think it kind of shows a unity amongst us. It really has nothing to do with lug nuts or no lug nuts or anything like that, it’s more so the drivers believing that they have a right to express their opinion especially when asked in an interview. We try to do our best to give honest answers and sometimes those aren’t always the best thing. I know at times I’ve been very guilty of being too honest at times or too opinionated at times and it costs you a nickel or two. We just think that there should be a little bit of leniency there for someone that knows a lot about our sport and has been in our sport a long time. He gave his opinion and especially when it’s something on safety too. I think it’s pretty important. As far as what we believe, it’s all said in the statement. Everything I’m telling you here is my opinion and my opinion only.”
Q: Where is the line when it comes to comments from drivers?
Hamlin: “I don’t know where the line is, I don’t know if there is a line – obviously there is a line, but obviously we just believe that you should be able to express your opinion as long as you’re not just totally trashing the sport itself or anything like that. I think every situation is different, but we’ll just move forward from it.”
Q: How has the driver’s council evolved and what is the direction of the council overall?
Hamlin: “I think that the driver’s interests and the owner’s interests is 95 percent aligned most of the time. There’s some things that we feel like we would like to see changed, sometimes it doesn’t align with what NASCAR thinks or what the teams think, but I think that this was a pretty black and white thing from a driver’s perspective to have a guy that’s coming back and is in the middle of an interview and gets asked a question and he responds to the question and gets fined for it. That to us was a moment and I think for us it just shows solidarity that we’re all in this together as the drivers and we want to have one voice because that one voice is obviously a little louder and clearer to NASCAR when we go into meetings talking about where it’s going to head from competition to safety and amongst other things. I think that its grown a lot over the last year and our communication as drivers, the barriers that we have, those have been broken down tremendously over the last year to two. Our meetings with NASCAR have changed the sport and will continue to change the sport for many years. Mostly it’s all positive, every now and then we feel like we should show solidarity to a guy whose done a lot for the sport and we still don’t want to be so politically correct all the time and have to filter our thoughts and think about it because we have sponsors on our cars or owners we have to answer to or NASCAR, sometimes you just want to say what you feel and we feel like you should be able to do that at times.”
Q: How did the discussion come about to pay Tony Stewart’s fine?
Hamlin: “I think it’s more of a council thing. Obviously we chat on a daily basis about issues within our sport or things we’d like to work on or change or stay the same. When Tony (Stewart) informed us of the fine, we didn’t agree with it and no one agreed with it and we thought there was something we should do about it. This was a way for us to send a message back to NASCAR, not that we were trying to send any specific message that we just believe that we should have the right to speak our opinion. I don’t know whether everyone agrees with the opinion he had or not, but it doesn’t matter. It’s what he was asked so he answered the question. I think that was the biggest thing for us. We should have the right to speak our opinion.”
Q: Have you heard from the series about the statement yet?
Hamlin: “Nothing from the series at all, but I’m sure we’ll all hear something at some point.”
Stewart says lug nut rule is a safety issue UPDATES: #14-Tony Stewart is “beyond mad” with NASCAR over the sanctioning body’s lack of lug nut enforcement on pit road, the driver/team owner said Wednesday. NASCAR stopped requiring teams to put all five lug nuts on its wheels at the start of last season, part of a new pit road technology initiative that also saw a reduction of its officiating force. With officials no longer in every pit box, NASCAR said it was up to the teams whether they should put all five lug nuts on the wheel or not. But teams have been pushing the limit by only securing as few as three lug nuts, creating an epidemic of loose wheels in the sport. And Stewart said it’s only a matter of time before that ends badly. “I guarantee you that envelope is going to keep getting pushed until somebody gets hurt,” Stewart said. “You will not have heard a rant that’s going to be as bad as what’s going to come out of my mouth if a driver gets hurt because of a loose wheel that hurts one of them. With all the crap we’re going through with all the safety stuff, and for them to sit there and sit on their hands on this one … this is not a game you play with safety and that’s exactly the way I feel like NASCAR is treating this. This is not the way to do this.” Stewart said NASCAR overall has done a fine job on safety — such as mandating safety changes to superspeedway cars in technical bulletins — but said “in this one particular area, they are totally dropping the ball and I feel like really made a grossly bad decision on.”(USA Today)(4-21-2016)
UPDATE: NASCAR has fined Stewart-Haas Racing driver and co-owner Tony Stewart $35,000 for violations of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book, the sanctioning body announced Thursday. Stewart’s fine falls under Section 12 of the rule book, specifically member conduct guidelines. According to Section 12.8.1, actions that could result in a $10,000-$50,000 fine include disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership, or verbal abuse of a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc. Stewart announced earlier Thursday that he would return to the #14 Chevrolet this weekend at Richmond after missing the first eight races due to injury.(NASCAR.com)(4-21-2016)
UPDATE 2: The Sprint Cup Drivers Council released a statement Thursday night on Tony Stewart’s punishment from NASCAR, supporting the three-time champion and announcing it would pay his $35,000 fine. The statement was released exclusively to NBC Sports through Drivers Council member Denny Hamlin. The statement reads:
“We as drivers believe Tony has the right to speak his opinion on topics that pertain to a sport that he has spent nearly two decades helping build as both a driver and an owner. While we do not condone drivers lashing out freely at NASCAR, we do feel Tony was in his rights to state his opinion. We as a Council support him and do not agree with the fine. Therefore, we fellow council members have agreed to contribute equally to paying his fine.”
The Drivers Council was formed last year and meets periodically with NASCAR to discuss various issues from competition to safety. It added Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch this year to a group that included returning members Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Stewart, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano.(NBC Sports)(4-22-2016)
France comments on search for title sponsor: NASCAR CEO Brian France was among the professional sports commissioners who met with the Associated Press Sports Editors at meetings in New York Thursday. Asked about the status of NASCAR finding a replacement for Sprint at the Cup Series title sponsor, France stated “We’re ahead of schedule, where normally these things take longer to do.” France expects [a] decision soon “There’s no playbook when it comes to a billion-dollar sports deal.”(4-22-2016)
Sprint Cup could get heat races: NASCAR would consider eventually bringing heat races to Sprint Cup after the format made its debut in the Xfinity Series at Bristol last weekend. NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said feedback would be sought from race promoters about the reception of heat races, which will be used again Saturday at Richmond International Raceway and two more times this season. “I think it’s something we’ll continue to look at,” he said. “We certainly want to talk to promoters and race fans. If we see positive momentum and fans really like it, it’s something we’d take a look at (for Sprint Cup). We know with any change there is always some risk. We’ve got to make sure we hang on to our hard-core fans, because always with change comes some challenges. Our goal is to grow the sport. If we can make it more exciting and have everyone even more up on the wheel, we’ll take a look at it. But right now, (we’re) really happy with the decision to go with those four events in Xfinity.”(NBC Sports)(4-19-2016)
NASCAR Race To Green Week-Long Campaign Highlights Sport’s Efforts to Protect the Environment: In celebration of the industry’s wide ranging effort to protect the environment, NASCAR announced today its fourth annual NASCAR Race to Green program. The week-long initiative will culminate with Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, and recognize many of the key stakeholders that care deeply about sustainability, including teams, tracks, partners, employees and fans. For the first time, NASCAR Race to Green will feature a week-long spotlight series on NASCAR.com/green highlighting the sustainability efforts of partners that work closely with NASCAR year-round to help protect the environment. In addition to several tracks and teams, the following partners will be recognized for their green efforts:
· American Ethanol and Growth Energy will celebrate six years as a NASCAR Official Partner and will eclipse 10 million miles of racing on Sunoco Green E15 in 2016, the equivalent of more than 400 trips around the circumference of the earth.
· Elgin Sweepers save roughly one gallon of diesel fuel per hour, which relates to about 22.4 pounds of CO2. This technology offsets about 16 metric tons of CO2 being put into the environment over the course of a full NASCAR season, the equivalent of planting 372 new tree seedlings.
· Safety-Kleen – the official waste remover of NASCAR – will collect approximately 180,000 gallons of oil. That oil is transported to one of four Safety-Kleen oil refineries and processed, making the oil clean and usable again.
· Mobil 1 is serving as a NASCAR Race to Green initiative partner for the third consecutive year, further extending its promotion of sustainability through its fuel-efficient motor oils – Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy and Mobil Delvac 1 LE 5W-30.
· Toyota has partnered with Richmond International Raceway to create a Toyota Green Space, a newly beautified area that includes nearly 38,000 square feet of fresh grass, a picnic area and newly planted trees and plants, for fans to visit during the Toyota Owners 400 race weekend.
Also featured on NASCAR.com/green is the NASCAR Green Carbon quiz, where fans will once again be invited to measure their environmental impact and receive tips from Official Green Partners on how to reduce their carbon footprint.
During NASCAR Race to Green week the color green will be displayed on the A-post of race cars across the NASCAR national series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. NASCAR Green flags will be displayed at all tracks hosting NASCAR events this weekend, including Richmond International Raceway, Stafford Motor Speedway and the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain (NASCAR Whelen Euro Series).
After a successful pilot program in 2015, Richmond International Raceway will once again focus its sustainability efforts towards food rescue and recovery. Last year, the track and Americrown Services donated more than 3,300 meals to local food shelters and soup kitchens, diverted more than 24,700 pounds of food scraps and waste to composting and recycled more than two tons of cardboard, resulting in nearly 33 metric tons of CO2 Greenhouse Gas Reductions.(NASCAR)(4-19-2016)
NASCAR will discuss lug nuts and loose wheels: NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said Monday that a recent rash of loose wheels would be a topic in the Sprint Cup Series’ monthly competition meeting with teams. #78-Martin Truex Jr., #24-Chase Elliott and #48-Jimmie Johnson were among several who needed extra pit stops because of loose wheels during Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. There also were multiple loose wheels in the previous race at Texas Motor Speedway, prompting much debate last week over the risks and rewards of the practice of tightening fewer than five lug nuts during a pit stop. A loose wheel is a safety hazard for drivers, who can be left with little warning of losing control at a high rate of speed. “We’ll continue to look at it,” O’Donnell said during his weekly appearance on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM’s NASCAR channel. “We’ve got our competition meeting monthly where we meet with the teams and certainly raise any issues that they see as something we’ve got to address, probably more so immediately.” NASCAR once monitored and punished teams for hitting fewer than five lug nuts on a stop. But it hasn’t been policed since an overhaul of pit road officiating before last season.(in part from NBC Sports)(4-18-2016)
Low downforce package gets first night race test: The crumbled and taped nose of the #48 Chevrolet illustrated Jimmie Johnson’s point more than the amount of leaders or passes in the Duck Commander 500 on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. It had to. The downforce-reducing aerodynamics package that NASCAR vetted successfully last season and applied to most of the venues on the 2016 schedule had produced results mostly pleasing to fans and compelling to drivers through five applications so far. The result early Sunday morning felt decidedly less exhilarating with Martin Truex Jr. leading 141 of 334 laps, Carl Edwards 124 and Kyle Busch producing the crucial pass for the eventual win by virtue of a decisive sequence that had more to do with pit strategy and tire wear than aerodynamics. But, Johnson said, this was progress, however subtle.
“I passed a lot of cars tonight in a variety of situations and getting out and looking at the nose of my car, it’s pretty hammered,” said Johnson, whose tribulations en route to a fourth-place finish included a pit road collision, a near-wreck, and being caught a lap down during an inopportune caution. “I think having a beat-up race car and being down a lap and taking the wave-by, a variety of other issues that went on and passing that many cars I think that’s a great sign of where this package is at.”
But in the first night race of the season, amid cool temperatures and on a track that was washed of rubber before the race by rain, there resulted a show that outwardly appeared less dazzling or at least not commensurate with the anticipation level. “Honestly, we’ve got to be real about the things that contribute to creating grip,” Johnson said. “A nice cold evening is going to create grip. The slicker the race track, I think, the more the cars will shine is where we’re at. I think Vegas was cool and crisp ad good grip and not exactly what we wanted. Here was still good but I think once we get in the hot summer months we’ll put on a good show.”(USA Today)(4-10-2016)
Hamlin says drivers would like to see race winnings published: The introduction of the new charter system – and the subsequent restructuring and distribution of purse money and other revenue streams – caused some feverish preseason reworking of driver contracts. It also caused some hand-wringing among stars who were accustomed to being paid by a percentage of a purse that was posted publicly in every race box score, along with the winnings for each finishing position. Citing the complicated revenue streams, NASCAR discontinued publishing winnings and races purses as part of the new charter system. Five races into the season, Denny Hamlin said concerns have settled about the latter as drivers are being paid as they’d expected, though the contracts vary much more widely than before when virtually every driver drew a defined percentage of the purse as a slice of the overall salary.
Hamlin, though, said drivers would like NASCAR to return to including race winnings in box scores, if only in appealing to fans who grew accustomed to the format. “I think some fans like to see that and us drivers I think we like to see purses posted personally,” Hamlin said.
A NASCAR spokesman said the policy of whether to publish purses currently isn’t being reviewed, but Hamlin believes officials are “considering it. I think if everyone knows what they’re getting, I don’t know what the benefit is from keeping it from the public. I don’t know but there’s probably some sort of reason that I don’t know about.”(NBC Sports)(4-3-2016)
O’Donnell talks about “full fields”, race winnings: Interviewed by the Charlotte Observer, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell talked about various issues including the size of Sprint Cup fields and why race winnings are no longer released:
Q: Although there are four spots available each race for non-charter “open” teams, they haven’t all been filled since Daytona and fields have been composed of 39 of a possible 40 cars. Is that a concern?
O’Donnell: “When we looked at the charter system, we decided to leave four spots open. We didn’t necessarily think those four spots would be occupied at each race and we’d love to maybe have them filled. But we’re concentrating on the quality of the race teams that do show up each week. We’re happy with that. We’ve got 36 teams and whichever open teams that show up and it’s provided quality racing.”
Q: Why is prize money is no longer released after races?
O’Donnell: “All the teams know what they are racing for. It’s listed in the charter agreements. Teams and tracks are aware. We don’t have anything to hide from the team owners and tracks. But it’s something we could continue to look at.”(Charlotte Observer)(3-25-2016)
Poll gives good grade to this year’s racing: The Century Poll, a monthly survey of 100 members of the NASCAR community, has given the racing with the new low-downforce package in the Sprint Cup Series an average grade of an A- after four races. The poll, which asks 50 media members and 50 members of the NASCAR garage one question every month, found an average grade of 90.81 among the votes. That number combines from combining the total averages of the media and garage votes.
This month’s question: After running three distinct track lengths this season – 1-mile (Phoenix), 1.5-mile (Atlanta and Las Vegas) and 2-mile (Fontana) – what early season grade would you give the 2016 Sprint Cup low downforce rules package?
The garage voters gave six more A votes than the media, while also giving the four lowest grades out of the 100 taken – two Bs, one C and one C-. Media voters made up most of the difference by awarding eight more Bs, with no grade out of their 50 being below a B. Compared to a similar vote after the first five races of 2015, this year’s poll gave the racing seven more points (90.81 with 58 As vs. 83.42 with six As).(NBC Sports)(3-24-2016)
Audi to NASCAR?: While many have speculated that Audi is looking to enter Formula One, NASCAR.com’s Matthew Dillner says the German manufacturer is preparing to enter stock-car racing with NASCAR. “I’ve heard rumors for two years of Audi entering #NASCAR and know the interest has been there,” Dillner tweeted on Tuesday. “My prediction is that it will happen.”(AutoWeek)(3-23-2016)
France discusses thrilling start to 2016 season, new manufacturer coming? After two photo finishes and a bevy of side-by-side racing to start the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France joined SiriusXM Speedway host Dave Moody on Friday to discuss the early-season returns on the new aero package employed in the sport’s top series. “Well it’s off to a really good start obviously,” France said. “It’s not a situation where we’re willing to say everything is perfect because we’re always searching for terrific things on the racetrack. The low downforce [package], in combination with Goodyear producing a really good tire to match up to that, has given the drivers more of what they want and they’re putting on one heck of a race.”
The 2016 season opened with Denny Hamlin capturing the Daytona 500 by a scant .010 seconds over Martin Truex Jr. That finish was followed by a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway – the first with the new lower downforce aero package – that saw a record number of green flag passes for the lead (44). And last Sunday in Phoenix, Kevin Harvick edged Carl Edwards to the finish line by the identical Daytona margin of victory of .010 seconds. But it was the end-of-race, sheet-metal crushing aggression displayed by both Harvick and Edwards at the end of the race that most impressed France.
“You’ve heard me say many, many times, that’s classic NASCAR racing when that happens,” France said of the contact made between Harvick and Edwards at the close of Sunday’s race. “But it’s interesting to note that not all the drivers that we have, present or past, would have made the moves that Carl Edwards tried to do to get around Harvick. Harvick did a great job. They both did a great job. But that’s classic NASCAR. We expect that.”
In the wide-ranging 12 minute interview, France also touched on the potential of new manufacturers entering the sport, joining the current stable of Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota.
“There is some interest, and by a couple of different manufacturers and we would be open to that in the right conditions,” France said. “I think a lot of the car companies are understandably looking at the terrific job that Toyota has done by partnering with NASCAR and the success and all the things that comes along with that. They’ve been an incredible success story for a car manufacturer looking to come into a sport that’s very difficult to come in, compete and win every weekend. But there’s an interest. And this is obviously the biggest opportunity in auto racing in North America.”(NASCAR Wire Service)(3-19-2016)
Most Mentioned Drivers 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:
Driver, Interviews, Interview Time, Mentions
#48-Johnson, 4, 0:02:40, 532
#4-Harvick, 3, 0:01:18, 434
#20-Kenseth, 3, 0:01:52, 312
#18-Busch, 5, 0:04:58, 306
#78-Truex, Jr., 3, 0:02:56, 301
#22-Logano, J., 2, 0:01:00, 291
#2-Keselowski, 2, 0:02:48, 283
#41-Busch, 0, 0:00:00, 264
#11-Hamlin, 1, 0:01:00, 244
#88-Earnhardt, Jr., 3, 0:02:35, 210
#19-Edwards, 3, 0:02:15, 166
#24-Elliott, 4, 0:01:58, 160
#3-Dillon, 4, 0:03:02, 109
#21-Blaney, 2, 0:01:10, 98
#42-Larson, 0, 0:00:00, 52
Statistics reflect all live race telecasts and replays of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season (through #3 Las Vegas).(Joyce Julius & Associates)(3-18-2016)
What drivers are up in the standings over a year ago? down? Change is evident when the Sprint Cup series points standings is examined compared to this time last year. #41-Kurt Busch, #19-Carl Edwards and #3-Austin Dillon are among the drivers who have gained the most in the standings since last year, while #15-Clint Bowyer and #31-Ryan Newman are among those who have dropped the most. Here are the drivers who have gained the most in the standings compared to this time last year:
#41-Kurt Busch … gained 29 spots to fourth
#19-Carl Edwards … gained 16 spots to fifth
#3-Austin Dillon … gained 14 spots to eighth
#17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr. … gained nine spots to 18th
#11-Denny Hamlin … gained seven spots to sixth
Kurt Busch was suspended the first three races last year and was 33rd at this time in the points after running one race, thus the big turnaround. His younger brother, Kyle, had yet to race at this point last year after being injured in the season-opening Xfinity race at Daytona.
While those drivers have had better starts to the season, others have not fared as well.
#15-Clint Bowyer … lost 19 spots to 34th
#31-Ryan Newman … lost 17 spots to 25th
#47-A.J. Allmendinger … lost 15 spots to 20th
#27-Paul Menard … lost 15 spots to 26th
#13-Casey Mears … lost 15 spots to 27th
Bowyer is with HScott Motorsports this season before heading to Stewart-Haas Racing to take over Tony Stewart’s ride. Bowyer has not finished better than 22nd and has placed outside the top 30 in three races. Newman finished last at Phoenix after a melted bead caused a tire failure and sent him into the wall. Allmendinger has not finished better than 14th. Menard finished next-to-last at Phoenix after suffering a similar fate as Newman, his teammate. Mears has not finished better than 14th this season.(full article at NBC Sports)(3-18-2016)
College students audition for NASCAR pit crews: NASCAR representatives were wowed Wednesday [3-16-2016] during a pit stop at Virginia State University, part of a nationwide search for athletes talented enough to become pit crew members. As it stands, NASCAR crews are predominantly white men, and NASCAR has been visiting several universities to attract talented racial minorities and women. “I’m impressed,” Phil Horton, director of athletic performance for Rev Racing, told about two dozen student-athletes at VSU, a historically black school in the Chesterfield County village of Ettrick. Horton said the VSU competitors were some of the most talented prospects he has seen as part of the Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development program. He also praised the camaraderie of the students, who cheered for one other. VSU football, track and field, basketball and volleyball athletes competed in timed drills that included jump-roping, agility tests, sit-ups and push-ups. Organizers said they saw record performances, including one student who did 100 jumps in 28 seconds during the jump-roping competition.(full article at Richmond Times Dispatch)(3-17-2016)
Brian France at NYU & NASCAR at MIT: NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France and the Commissioners of the NBA, NFL, MLB and MLS, led a group from across nine major professional sports leagues Monday at New York University to collaborate on social responsibility in sports. The industry summit was hosted by the NYU School of Professional Studies Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business.
NASCAR at MIT: During the milestone 10th MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, NASCAR Senior VP of Strategic Development Eric Nyquist participated on a panel entitled ‘Road to the Championship: Playoff Analytics.’ Joined by executives from MLB, the NCAA and MLS, Nyquist spoke about the evolution of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and how analytics played a role in shaping the new format of NASCAR playoffs.(NASCAR)(3-17-2016)
NASCAR will look at limiting contact with suspended crew members: NASCAR will examine if there is more it can do to limit the contact suspended individuals, particularly crew chiefs, have with their teams on race weekends. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said Monday on “The Morning Drive” that even if the sanctioning body barred suspended crew chiefs from having contact with their team at the track, it would be “very difficult to police.” The question was asked on the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show after Martin Truex Jr. stated last week that his team would stay in touch with suspended crew chief Cole Pearn via FaceTime, chat and other electronic means last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.
“The old policy of ‘You’re suspended, and you can’t be there’ has probably served its time,” O’Donnell said. “As we go forward now, obviously we never want to have to suspend someone, we’re going to have look at the technology. It’s very difficult to police, but you could have almost a no-contact rule. That would be hard to police, but we could put that in place. It is something we’re looking at. We wanted to see how Phoenix went, and we’ll kind of evaluate what teams are doing with all the technologies that they have in place and see what we can and can’t monitor on a fair manner and go from there. A suspension should be that. It shouldn’t allow someone just to crew chief a car from a different location.”(NBC Sports(3-15-2016)
Sports Business Journal Awards have several NASCAR nominations: NASCAR has been nominated in multiple categories in the Sports Business Journal’s ninth annual Sports Business Awards. The sanctioning body has been nominated for “Sports League of the Year” with the American Athletic Conference, MLB, MLS, NBA and PGA Tour.
NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France has been nominated for “Sports Executive of the Year.” The other nominees are Stan Kroenke from Kroenke Sports and Entertainment; Joe Lacob, owner of the Golden State Warriors; Rob Manfred, commissioner of Major League Baseball and Mark Parker, CEO of Nike.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., the 13-time most popular driver, is a nominee for “Best in Sports Social Media.” Last May, Earnhardt became the second NASCAR driver after Danica Patrick to reach 1 million followers on Twitter. They have both since been passed by Jimmie Johnson.
Daytona International Speedway is nominated for “Sport Facility of the Year” along with Avaya Stadium, Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kyle Field and Petco Park. Daytona unveiled its completed $400 million “Daytona Rising” renovations in February in time for the 58th running of the Daytona 500.
Both Toyota and Xfinity from Comcast were nominated for the “Sports Sponsor of the Year.” The awards will be presented May 18 in New York City.(NBC Sports)
AND: Darlington Raceway’s successful 2015 Bojangles’ Southern 500 Tradition Returns throwback event is among the final nominees for “Sports Event of the Year.” The throwback campaign was a collaborative industry-wide effort to celebrate the history and heritage of the sport and featured a celebration of the early 1970’s (1970-74). The nominees were announced by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, one of the most respected business publications in sports. Winners will be announced LIVE at the Sports Business Awards on May 18 in New York City. Other nominees for “Sports Event of the Year” are the 2015 Belmont Stakes, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, and Super Bowl 50. Launched in 2008, the Awards were established by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily to celebrate and recognize the leaders, visionaries and day-to-day practitioners who personify excellence in the business of sports.(Darlington Raceway)(3-15-2016)
Ticket sales down in 2015: The three public companies that operate racetracks reported a tick downward in ticket revenues in 2015 as they attempt to turn around what has become an eight-year trend. International Speedway Corp., Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Dover Motorsports combined to sell $238.8 million in tickets in 2015, down from $239.2 million in 2014, according to their annual reports. SMI was the last to issue its annual financials Wednesday. Those figures include tickets for non-NASCAR events, but NASCAR races make up a large majority of the ticket sales at the tracks. ISC, 72 percent of whose stock is owned by the NASCAR-owning France family, has 20 of the 38 Sprint Cup events, while SMI, controlled by Bruton Smith and family, has 13 events and Dover has two.
The 0.17 percent drop from 2014 to 2015 could show some stabilization. Ticket revenues dropped 9.1 percent in 2012, 6.5 percent in 2013 and 2.5 percent in 2014. The 2015 figures for the three companies is 49 percent below their all-time high of $467.4 million in 2007. Tracks at the three public companies have eliminated more than 428,000 seats — 23 percent of their capacity — since 2007 in order to create increased demand. ISC reported that its Sprint Cup tickets sold in 2015 went for an average price of $86.10, up slightly from $85.82 in 2014, with grandstand capacity at 89 percent in 2015, up from 87 percent in 2014. It also reported that its six Chase for the Sprint Cup races had a 4 percent increase in attendance. The money the companies earned from tickets pales to what they earn from the NASCAR television package, of which the tracks get 65 percent. They took in about $407.1 million in broadcast rights in 2015.(ESPN.com)(3-10-2016)
Pit road penalties up this year: Just three races into the 2016 Sprint Cup Series season and there seems to be a trend developing: a growing number of pit road penalties. There were a total of 19 pit road penalties in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, starting with pole-sitter #41-Kurt Busch being too fast on pit road on Lap 32 of the 267-lap event. The #41 Stewart-Haas Racing driver was not alone in his faults, seven other drivers accumulated a race-total of eight speeding penalties on pit road. Race winner Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson, Regan Smith and AJ Allmendinger all received speeding penalties.
Pit road drama also was prevalent the week before at Atlanta Motor Speedway, as Matt Kenseth received a black flag in the race. During a pit stop on Lap 117, the gas man for the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing pit crew placed a tool on the rear of Kenseth’s Toyota, which is illegal and resulted in a penalty for improper fueling. Kenseth was unaware of his penalty and stayed out after receiving the black flag with a white cross from NASCAR officials, signaling the 2003 Sprint Cup Series champion was no longer being scored as completing a lap. He served his penalty and ended up two laps down.
While much of the fault can be placed on drivers for pit road penalties, the teams’ crew members have played a huge role in the infractions. Besides this year’s Daytona 500 having the closest finish in NASCAR history, the “Great American Race” also produced the most modern-day pit road infractions (12) caused by pit crews. This is the second year of NASCAR’s Pit Road Officiating system, a camera-operated technology that captures pit stop footage during a race, and as NASCAR officials have learned more about the system since last season, pit crews are wising up any little way they can. NASCAR’s managing director of technology field and media operations, George Grippo, previously explained in January that crew members are now wearing shoes that match the color of pit road. The similar color could jumble up officials determining whether a team member has come over the wall too soon.(NASCAR.com)(3-9-2016)
Changes to NASCAR sanctioning agreements this year: NASCAR has added new language to its sanction agreements that prohibit anything resembling the Sprint Cup Series at tracks that have Sprint Cup races. Because Dover International Speedway’s entire business is virtually reliant on its two NASCAR weekends, Dover filed select financial information as well as its entire Sprint Cup sanction agreements with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week. The money Dover will get from the NASCAR television package will increase from 3.37 percent to 4.25 percent annually over the next five years. Dover will receive $30.7 million in television money for its two Sprint Cup weekends … and it will increase anywhere from $1.1 million to $1.4 million a year through 2020.
The sanction agreement also includes some new language — interesting language from the standpoint that NASCAR has now banned any races of similar cars at the tracks where Sprint Cup competes. Among other new items in the five-year sanction agreements:
* NASCAR will tell promoters by April 1 the dates of their races for the following year.
* There is a new section on “secondary ancillary rights” fees that will be distributed 60 percent to teams, 30 percent to promoters and 10 percent to NASCAR. These would be non-live broadcast rights for highlights and other digital content, including licensing to fantasy games for use of driver and team images.
* There is a new section called “event standards” that creates a promoter council and requires that the tracks and NASCAR will work together to create series-wide and event-specific criteria relative to fan experience, remote viewers experience, promotion of events and stature of events – and that NASCAR and the track would put together a plan to rectify any shortfalls or deficiencies.
* NASCAR will now require pace vehicles to be only those from manufacturers that participate in NASCAR competition, with any track deals with other manufacturers grandfathered in for 2016.(ESPN.com)(3-4-2016)
Allegiant Air becomes Official Passenger Airline of NASCAR: NASCAR and Allegiant Air announced a multi-year agreement designating the travel company as the Official Passenger Airline of NASCAR. The newly forged partnership positions Allegiant as the first-ever “Official Passenger Airline Partner” of the sanctioning body. Allegiant will allow fans to take advantage of its convenient, ultra-low-cost service to enjoy races in more than 20 NASCAR race markets, including NASCAR’s entire west coast series of events in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. As part of this integrated partnership, Allegiant Air joins the NASCAR Fuel for Business Council, which brings together an exclusive group of nearly 60 Official NASCAR Partners four times per year to buy and sell products and services from one another. This exclusive business-to-business environment offers unique opportunities for many Fortune 500 companies to bypass the time and layers of corporate coordination that may exist to construct customized deals that help address specific business needs.(NASCAR)(3-4-2016)
2017 NASCAR race dates expect to be set early: NASCAR will set 2017 race dates after completing discussions with track operators on or before April 1, according to Dover International Speedway’s sanctioning agreement with NASCAR. No timetable is set for when NASCAR will announce the upcoming schedule but it is expected to be sooner than last year (October) and 2015 (Aug. 2014). NASCAR announced five-year agreements with tracks that host Sprint Cup and Xfinity races in October and with tracks that host Camping World Truck Series races in November, assuring events through the 2020 season in each series. By having those agreements in place, it allows NASCAR to focus on dates earlier in the year. Dover’s sanctioning agreement – recently released in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, also states that NASCAR will use “good faith” to maintain relative placement of races in the series calendar.
The clause about future schedules also includes: “Opportunities may stem from any number of factors including, but not limited to, requests for realignment, requests for date changes, requests from NASCAR’s then current transmission partners, the dates of other major sports events, changing local market conditions, and so on. Accordingly, (NASCAR Event Management) may make adjustments to the overall annual Series Calendar for one or more of the future calendar years that fall under the Term of this Agreement to maximize the value of the Series. Except as noted above, if such an adjustment requires an Event date change(s) of more than two (2) weeks, NEM will notify PROMOTER on or before April 1st of the preceding year and such change will only be made with the PROMOTER’s consent.”(NBC Sports)(3-3-2016)
Positive response to aero package from drivers: For a race with a mere three cautions, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. found Sunday’s event with the new low-downforce competition package exhilarating. “I loved it,” Earnhardt said. “We were sliding around and driving the hell out of the car. I had a blast! I had some good races there on the track with the #2 (Brad Keselowski) and the #18 (Kyle Busch) and a bunch of guys. Man, it was so much fun. And I post old pictures online all the time of the ’80s and ’90s, and that’s when racing was racing. That’s when it was good. That’s what they saw today.”
Ninth-place finisher Brad Keselowski echoed Earnhardt’s sentiments. “I loved the way the cars drive,” said Keselowski, who had the top-finishing Ford. “I understand that it takes more than my opinion to make the sport go round, but I thought it was awesome.”
Carl Edwards, a long-time advocate of the new aerodynamic package, would like to see NASCAR take even more downforce away. “They just need to keep taking more,” said Edwards, who drove his #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to a fifth-place result. “This is real racing. We’re driving hard. You can see the guys out here just digging for everything they’re worth. I’m worn out. That’s a tough race and just a lot of fun. I just can’t thank NASCAR enough and Atlanta – don’t ever pave this place – it’s a perfect race track. I hope the fans enjoyed the show. The thing is, just know that in that car we’re driving as hard as we can.”(NASCAR Wire Service)(2-29-2016)
Smaller Cup field not a surprise: All eyes will be on the guys up front during Sunday’s NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It might be worth taking a look at who’s running toward the back. Or, more accurately, who isn’t there. Only 39 cars showed up for the second race of the Sprint Cup season, the lowest number of entries in more than two decades. It marks just the third time since NASCAR standardized the fields in 1998 that there aren’t enough cars to fill every available slot. While the reduced numbers won’t affect front-runners such as Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin – after all, we’re talking about low-budget drivers who probably would’ve been lapped early in the race – it does drive home the end of an era. Farewell to those penny-pinching teams that merely want to go fast enough in qualifying to hang around through the weekend. This season, NASCAR will be hard-pressed to get the new maximum – 40 cars – on the track each week. By the end of the year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see as few as 37.
If lacking a charter, it simply doesn’t pay to compete on a regular basis unless you have a major sponsor, like the Wood Brothers. The race purses are still a bit of a mystery under the new arrangement, but it seems the charter teams are claiming a hefty piece of that pie, too, with an eye toward nudging out the start-and-park teams that showed up merely to collect a last-place paycheck.
Even after scaling back the 43-car field, which had been in place for 18 years, NASCAR didn’t even hit the new target just two weeks into the season. This is the smallest number of teams at a Cup race since 35 attempted to qualify for the 1993 Goody’s 500 at Martinsville Speedway, and more contraction is likely. The season-opening Daytona 500 drew only 44 cars – the lowest number of entries in the 58-year history of NASCAR’s most storied event.(Associated Press)(2-27-2016)
NASCAR Debuts Lower Downforce Aero Package At Atlanta: This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will debut its much-anticipated lower downforce 2016 aerodynamics package. The package is similar to the ones used at Kentucky and Darlington last year. Lowering the downforce on a car makes it harder to drive, which puts more emphasis on driver skill and increases the potential for more passing.
Changes to the car for this season’s aero package include reductions to:
- Spoiler – 2015: 6″ tall, 2016: 3.5″ tall
- Air coming over the top of the car hits the spoiler, which pushes the back of the car down. A shorter spoiler creates less downforce than a taller spoiler.
- Splitter – 2015: 2″ overhang, 2016: .25″ overhang
- The splitter “splits” air and forces it to accelerate under the car, creating a high-pressure zone above the splitter and a low-pressure zone underneath that sucks the car down. Shortening the splitter reduces downforce.
- Radiator Pan – 2015: 38″ wide, 2016: 33″ wide
- The radiator pan is a flat panel that extends behind the splitter and under the car, deflecting air to create more downforce. A narrower panel is less effective in deflecting air, which slows airflow and creates less downforce.
Daytona 500 winnings released UPDATE: Although NASCAR has stated that it does not plan to list winnings after races, it listed the winnings from Sunday’s Daytona 500 in a media packet. The winnings that go to Joe Gibbs Racing for Denny Hamlin’s victory is $1,507,592. That’s less than what Team Penske received last year for Joey Logano’s Daytona 500 victory. Those winnings were $1,581,453. Martin Truex Jr. finished second Sunday and the winnings that went to Furniture Row Racing was $1,201,998. That’s more than what went to Stewart-Haas Racing last year when Kevin Harvick finished second and collected $1,157,470. The smallest paycheck went to BK Racing for Matt DiBenedetto’s 40th-place finish. Those earnings were $297,128. The smallest paycheck in last year’s race went to Hillman Racing for Landon Cassill’s last-place finish. Those earnings were $262,390.(NBC Sports)(2-25-2016)
UPDATE: NASCAR sent a note to Sprint Cup teams Thursday stating that it released incorrect information for Daytona 500 winnings on its media website. NASCAR stated to teams: “The information on 2016 Daytona 500 race team earnings posted (Wednesday) on NASCARMedia.com, our media services website, was factually incorrect. We removed the information, rectified the errors and are providing the correct information to race teams. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and now collectively turn our focus to NASCAR racing action this weekend in Atlanta.”(NBC Sports)(2-25-2016)
NASCAR sets records for fan engagement during Daytona 500: Sunday’s Daytona 500 provided fans with the closest finish in the history of the Great American Race when winner #11-Denny Hamlin edged runner-up #78-Martin Truex Jr. by .010 seconds – roughly four inches on the track. But Hamlin’s impressive victory at Daytona International Speedway wasn’t the only record-setting event of the day. On Wednesday, NASCAR released social media numbers generated from its biggest race, and Sunday’s Daytona 500 produced a litany of milestones. The 2016 Daytona 500 set a record for most social impressions generated in one day by NASCAR’s social channels, with race-day impressions up 63 percent over last year’s Great American Race. Engagement with NASCAR social media content — likes, comments and shares — increased threefold over the total generated during the 2015 Daytona 500.
The reasons for the spike are plenty, most notably the celebrity factor that the Daytona 500 often attracts. Singer Justin Bieber tweeted a photo of a NASCAR racing helmet to his 76 million followers. Ditto for actor Ashton Kutcher to his 17.4 million followers. Among the celebrities in attendance on Sunday, Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., actor Gerard Butler, WWE wrestler John Cena, rapper Wyclef Jean, National League MVP Bryce Harper and comedian Gabriel Iglesias all tweeted from the grounds. This year’s race dominated the Twitterverse. The Daytona 500, which peaked at 14.1 million television viewers tuned in for the checkered flag, generated more tweets than any other TV program on Sunday, beating second-place WWE Fastlane by 66 percent.
NASCAR’s digital platform racked up 2.1 million unique visitors and 13 million page views. Fans spent a record 2.8 million minutes watching Daytona 500 content on a new race viewing product called NASCAR Drive, recently launched on NASCAR.com. More than 23,000 unique Twitter users competed in the Hashtag 500, a “race” to be the 500th person to tweet unique hashtags, with race-used memorabilia as prizes. A tweet promoting the competition to win #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500 firesuit generated the most NASCAR-related mentions in 60 seconds since the debut of the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center, which measures such things. Overall, the 2016 Daytona 500 saw more NASCAR-related social conversation than had previously occurred on any single day since the inception of the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center. Social conversation was up 44 percent compared with last year’s race.(NASCAR Wire Service)(2-25-2016)
NASCAR looking to build international presence: NASCAR are eyeing a strategy to help build their international presence but the preeminent stock car racing organization have no immediate plans to schedule races outside the United States. Citing another made-in-America sports league, the National Basketball Association, NASCAR has decided to take a bottom-up approach in the hope of nurturing international drivers who might one day make the leap to the United States. “The NBA model is a great one,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice-president and chief racing development officer, told Reuters. “You have a (local league)in a particular country or region but the ultimate goal is to play in the NBA.” Although the NBA has played games overseas, NASCAR do not intend to export their premier Sprint Cup series, which includes the Daytona 500. In the distant past the mostly oval track racing series had non-points races for its stars in Australia and Japan. But those exhibitions do not fit with current NASCAR plans. “It was an idea before its time and we learned from that,” said O’Donnell. “Just taking a race to another country does not help build the sport. Our model for success is to grow at the grassroots level.” As part of the strategy implementation, a relatively new series, called the Whelen Euro Series, promotes racing on a variety of circuits in six countries, including former Formula One venues at Brands Hatch in England and Zolder in Belgium.(full article at Reuters)(2-23-2016)
REPOST – NASCAR ends posting race winnings: Ending a practice of more than six decades, NASCAR has stopped disclosing winnings in Sprint Cup box scores because of its new charter system, whose financial details are emerging. NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar told NBC Sports the decision was made to stop disseminating total purse and individual winnings for each race because “it’s not contemporary” under the new system announced Tuesday that guarantees revenue and race attendance for 36 teams with charters. Another four “open” cars – which don’t have charters that guarantee making the race – could round out each field for a maximum of 40 cars. “It’s a new foundation and a new era,” Dewar said. “We’ve changed a lot of things from that old model to this model. That’s one of the things that was from a different time and place.”
The move, which began with Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited, essentially ends career winnings as a calculable and comparable statistic. NASCAR has supplied race winnings virtually since its 1948 inception (Jim Roper is credited with earning $2,000 for winning the inaugural Strictly Stock race at Charlotte Speedway) and also listed each race’s total purse on entry blanks and box scores. The 2016 Daytona 500 entry blank didn’t contain a total purse or a breakdown of payouts by position. Those standard elements remain on the entry blanks for the truck and Xfinity series – both of which still have a race purse that includes money based on myriad contingency plans and finishing order.
Under the new system, NASCAR has set aside guaranteed revenues for chartered teams based on entering each race and on their performance over the past three seasons. They also will compete for a points fund with more cash. The fourth and final source of income for chartered teams is what traditionally has been called “the purse,” but in this case, it’s dependent solely on finishing position – carved out from the previous contingency plans that rewarded the most competitive teams. The chartered and open teams compete for the same pool of money in what is known as the “variable” purse that is based on results (in addition to the “fixed” purse that offers guaranteed money in much larger amounts for the charter teams). Dewar said it didn’t make sense to provide winnings that are listed according to drivers, which was misleading because the money actually was awarded to teams. Dewar contrasted it to a PGA event, where the listed winnings actually go directly to the golfer. IndyCar takes a similar approach, publishing none of its winnings for races aside from the Indianapolis 500.(in part from NBC Sports), see the Official Daytona 500 Race & Points Report (pdf), race winnings are not posted (2-14/23-2016)
NASCAR defines penalties for behavioral infractions: NASCAR has defined penalties for various behavioral infractions, including possible suspensions for drivers intentionally wrecking another vehicle in attempting to manipulate the outcome of the race or championship. NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Jim Cassidy said the rules announced Friday aren’t designed to be any tougher on the actions, only to define the potential penalties where before NASCAR had no penalty guidelines for specific behavioral actions. Last year, Kenseth said he didn’t think he would get suspended for intentionally wrecking race leader and potential championship candidate Joey Logano while nine laps down at Martinsville. “I wouldn’t tie this to any one specific event that has happened, but I would say what we’ve learned after talking to everybody is that everybody wants to understand more clearly where possible what potential ramifications will be in different scenarios, and this is an effort to go down that road,” Cassidy said.
Those sanctions would come under the penalty guidelines for premeditatedly removing another competitor from champion contention in a dangerous manner when not racing for position. NASCAR says that targeting another driver who is in a “highly vulnerable position” such as when stopped with a window net lowered or with significant race damage would elicit a similar response. NASCAR specifically notes that it expects contact and that racing can be heated and that there will be times that “hard and sometimes aggressive racing while contesting a position that could result in routine racing contact.” It also notes that a shoving match, shouting match or general venting in the heat of the moment after the race would elicit only a “mild response” of a warning or probation.
Actions that could result in a $10,000 to $50,000 fine would be disparaging the sport leadership, verbal abuse of NASCAR officials, media or fans and intentionally damaging another vehicle under yellow or red flag conditions or on pit road with no one else around.
Actions that could result in a points penalty of 25-50 points, a fine of $50,000-$100,000 and a one-race suspension would include intentionally wrecking another competitor, manipulating the outcome of the race or championship and physical confrontations.
NASCAR did not define penalties for disparaging comments on “race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age or handicapping condition.” Penalties for that violation — as well as criminal violations such as domestic assault — would result “in a fine and/or indefinite suspension or termination.” The new rule said NASCAR would consider when the incident occurs, the ramifications to the sport, a driver’s past history and impact to safety. All penalties can be appealed.(ESPN)(2-20-2016)
NASCAR’s Highest-Paid Drivers: NASCAR has undergone big changes over the past decade with how the sport crowns a champion, sells its merchandise and broadcasts its races on TV. The latest overhaul is a “charter” system that transforms 36 Sprint Cup teams into franchises, with similarities to other sports leagues liked shared revenue. The new system means adjustments to how drivers are paid. Drivers traditionally received a salary, as well as a percentage of the race purse winnings. But purse winnings will no longer be publicly released weekly with charter teams now guaranteed a certain amount of money annually distributed from a fund. Owners are currently reworking driver contracts and are expected to cut deals where the drivers won’t lose money under the new charter system.
Leading the way for the eighth straight year is #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who made an estimated $23.5 million in 2015. Second was #48-Jimmie Johnson at $22.2 million and Jeff Gordon at $21.6 million. Rounding out the top five are #4-Kevin Harvick at $15.5 million and #11-Denny Hamlin $15.1 million.(See full story and more at Forbes.com)(2-18-2016)
Changes on the NASCAR drivers council: Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch are now part of NASCAR’s nine-member drivers council, which enters its first full season as an official group. Returning members include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano. Jeff Gordon(retired), Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer are no longer on the council. The drivers communicate frequently using the group text function on their phones – sending daily messages – and hold meetings with NASCAR every few months. It was formed last spring and drivers held their first meeting with NASCAR in late May. Earnhardt acts as somewhat of a secretary for the group, managing the voting for elected positions (there are also spots for drivers who automatically qualify based on the point standings). Keselowski was elected – and was pleasantly surprised by it. He called it his “Sally Field moment” because there’s been talk Keselowski isn’t respected in the garage, but he was obviously respected enough to get voted onto the council. The current group met recently and discussed topics like tires, race day operations and the 2017 aero package, which Busch said is already under consideration.(USA Today)(2-17-2016)
Fanatics Revamps Trackside Superstore for 2016 Season: Fans visiting Daytona International Speedway’s (DIS) new motorsports stadium during Speedweeks 2016 will enjoy more than 100,000 square feet of retail options as part of the Fanatics Trackside Superstore shopping experience. The experience will be highlighted by a Superstore located on the Speedway’s revamped Midway featuring a customization area for fans to add imagery to leather products and headwear. Fans will also be able to purchase the Official Daytona 500 Champion’s Hat (produced by New Era) from this location immediately following the race. In addition to the Superstore, the stadium will feature two large stores in the “World Center of Racing” Center injector/entrance (located on level one), Toyota and Chevrolet stores in their respective injectors, infield stores as well as other locations throughout the stadium. The locations will offer a variety of merchandise options for men, women and kids, in addition to tailgating gear and collectibles (DIS)(2-16-2016)
NASCAR FAST FACTS – 2016 Procedural Changes:
Maximum Field Sizes / Corresponding New Points Systems
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Maximum 40-car field (36 Charter team cars, 4 Open team cars), race winner awarded 40 points, 40th place awarded one point.
NASCAR XFINITY Series – Maximum 40-car field, race winner awarded 40 points, 40th place awarded one point.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – Maximum 32-truck field, race winner awarded 32 points, 32nd place awarded one point
New points systems apply to driver, owner, and manufacturer championships. Existing 2015 Bonus points remain in place for 2016.(NASCAR)(2-11-2016)
Qualifying – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Daytona 500 Specific
– Thirty-six Charter teams will be assigned a starting position
– Four Open teams are eligible for starting positions
o The highest finishing Open team in each Can-Am Duel race earns a starting position
o The final two starting positions are awarded to Open teams based on Coors Light Pole Qualifying if not already a top finisher in a Duel race
– Qualifying sets the front row for the Daytona 500 and the starting lineup for the Can-Am Duel fields, with the number of Charter team and Open team cars split evenly throughout both races
– If qualifying is cancelled due to weather, the top two finishing Open teams from each Can-Am Duel race earn starting positions in the Daytona 500
– If the second Can-Am Duel race is cancelled due to weather, the highest finishing Open team from the first race earns a starting position, with the other three Open teams determined by qualifying
– If both Can-Am Duel races are cancelled due to weather, qualifying determines all four Open teams
– If qualifying and both Can-Am Duel races are cancelled due to weather, the combined practice speeds are used to determine the four Open teams
– If all on-track activity prior to the race is cancelled due to weather, 2015 Owner points will be used to determine the four Open teams
All Other Championship Race events
– Thirty-six Charter teams will be assigned a starting position and four Open teams are eligible for starting positions.
– Qualifying results will determine the Open team starting positions assuming the event is run as scheduled
– If qualifying is cancelled due to weather, the combined practice speeds determine the four Open teams
– If practice and qualifying are cancelled due to weather, Owner points determine the four Open teams (events 1-3 revert to 2015 Owner points)
(looks like no more past champion provisional)(NASCAR)(2-11-2016)
NASCAR Overtime / Green-White-Checker
For all three NASCAR national series, a race may be concluded with overtime, consisting of a new procedure for a green-white-checkered flag finish featuring an “overtime line.” The location of the overtime line will vary by track.
After taking the green on the overtime restart, if the leader then passes the overtime line on the first lap under green before a caution comes out (a “clean restart”), it will be considered a valid green-white-checkered attempt. However, if a caution comes out before the leader passes the overtime line on the first lap under green, it will not be considered a valid attempt, and a subsequent attempt will be made. If necessary, multiple subsequent attempts will be made until a valid attempt occurs.
Once a valid attempt is achieved (clean restart), it will become the only attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. If a caution comes out at any time during the valid green-white-checkered attempt, the field will be frozen and the checkered/yellow or checkered/red displayed to cars at the finish line.(NASCAR)(2-11-2016)
NASCAR Implements Team Owner Charter Agreement for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: During a historic event held today in Charlotte, N.C., NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France joined with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owners to announce a landmark long-term agreement that provides teams with increased business certainty and the ability to work more closely with NASCAR to produce best-in-class racing.
In effect as the 2016 NASCAR season prepares to kick off this weekend, the new Charter system addresses three key areas – participation, governance and economics – to promote a more predictable, sustainable and valuable team business model. The agreement grants NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Charters to 36 teams, establishes a Team Owner Council that will have formal input into decisions, and provides Charter teams with new revenue opportunities including a greater interest in digital operations.
“Today represents a landmark change to the business model of team ownership in NASCAR,” France said. “The Charter agreements provide nine years of stability for NASCAR and the teams to focus on growth initiatives together with our track partners, auto manufacturers, drivers and sponsors. The Charters also are transferable, which will aid in the development of long-term enterprise value for Charter members.”
The system affords Charter teams that remain in good standing more predictable revenue over the nine years of the agreement. Along with improved financial certainty, the new framework is designed to increase the long-term market value of teams and provide the ability to plan farther ahead with existing, new and prospective partners.
Similar to the five-year sanctioning agreements that NASCAR begins with tracks in 2016, team owner Charter agreements allow for longer planning cycles around competition, innovation, digital marketing, governance and research and development.
“The new Charter program strengthens each of our businesses individually and the team model as a whole, which is good for NASCAR, our fans, drivers, sponsors and the thousands of people who we employ,” said Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing. “This will give us more stability and predictability, and it will allow us to take a more progressive, long-term approach to issues.
“NASCAR and the teams share a desire to preserve, promote and grow the sport and ultimately produce great racing for our fans and partners. These common goals served as the foundation for discussions and helped bring us to this unprecedented agreement. This is a great step forward for the entire sport made possible by Brian France setting a new course for the NASCAR industry and the owners coming together on shared issues. Everyone involved then compromised a bit to be able to come up with something that worked for all.”
Each Charter team owner has a guaranteed entry into the field of every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race. To maintain the historical openness of NASCAR racing, the balance of the field will be open for team owners who do not hold Charters. These Open team owners will compete for the remaining starting spots and positions in the race, as each event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ starting lineup shifts in 2016 to a 40-car field.
“The new team owner agreements will offer a more appealing environment for both current and prospective team owners at the NASCAR premier series level,” France said. “I’ve always stressed that if we can do things to improve the business of our stakeholders, we will pursue it. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished today with this agreement.”(NASCAR)
read the full announcement press conference transcript on the NASCAR Charter Announcement transcript page.(2-9-2015)
(Listed by historical inception of race team entity, then numerical)
|2015 Car #||2016 Car #||Organization|
|43||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|9||44||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|3||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|27||27||Richard Childress Racing|
|31||31||Richard Childress Racing|
|6||6||Roush Fenway Racing|
|16||16||Roush Fenway Racing|
|17||17||Roush Fenway Racing|
|1||1||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|42||42||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|11||11||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|18||18||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|20||20||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|15||TBD||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|55||TBD||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|78||78||Furniture Row Racing|
|35||34||Front Row Motorsports|
|38||38||Front Row Motorsports|
|47||47||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|7||7||Tommy Baldwin Racing|
|32||32||Go Fas Racing|
|33||95||Circle Sport Racing|
NASCAR expected to announce charter system Tuesday UPDATE: NASCAR will hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon at 1:30pm with NASCAR CEO Brian France where they are expected to announce the details on a new charter system for Sprint Cup teams. The agreement is expected to guarantee a certain number of starting spots in the field to certain owners and shrink the race field to 40 cars. The system would provide owners with additional revenue and give them more value for their teams.
The press conference will be shown online at NASCAR.com.(2-8-2016)(2-8-2016)
UPDATE: Now that the paperwork is signed, how much one of these franchises — “charters” as NASCAR will call them — is worth in the coming years is as big a guess as picking the winner of the Daytona 500. The new system is to guarantee 36 owners a certain amount of revenue as well as starting positions in what will be a 40-car field, down from 43. There would be no buy-in for the initial 36 charters — they will go to owners whose cars have attempted every race since 2013. The owners, who likely will have to meet a performance clause to keep a charter, can opt to sell them to the highest bidder. There currently are 38 full-time teams announced for the 2016 Sprint Cup season, and four would not meet the criteria to get a charter. Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing are expected to purchase two charters from the now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing [for the teams of #19-Edwards & #41-Busch]. The other two — #21-Wood Brothers Racing and one of the two HScott Motorsports cars — would either need to purchase a charter from an existing team or have to be among the four at-large qualifiers each week. There have been 41 announced entries for the Daytona 500, although that number could change. The system should give organizations more value to potential investors and buyers. Teams will still need sponsorship to be competitive — sponsorship makes up about 70-75 percent of a team’s revenues. It is likely that whatever MWR owner Rob Kauffman sells his charters for will at least set an initial standard. And it remains to be seen whether future owners will come from racing fans with money or private equity firms.(ESPN.com)(2-9-2016)
NASCAR issues updates to Rule Book: NASCAR issued a bulletin to teams with updates to the 2016 Sprint Cup Rule Book. Most are clarifications or updates as opposed to anything new. Among the items listed:
– Teams may change the radiator during Speedweeks at Daytona. The radiator may be changed after completion of the 150-mile qualifying races and must be completed before the final practice for the Daytona 500.
– Teams must use the same rear end differential assembly at all events except: All road course events, events at Martinsville Speedway, the Daytona 500, the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race.
– NASCAR listed how many sets of tires teams are permitted for races. Teams will be allowed one fewer set of tires than last year at seven venues, representing 11 races.
– NASCAR listed the tire codes for the first 12 Cup events this season. There will be new left- and right-side tire codes for races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway, Auto Club Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Kansas Speedway and Dover International Speedway.
– NASCAR listed the pit road speed limit for each track.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Trophy Stops in Macon, GA: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship trophy was in Macon, GA on Thursday. The trophy was at Food Depot on Northside Drive as part of a promotion for Atlanta Motor Speedway’s upcoming race weekend. NASCAR returns to AMS the last weekend of February when the Camping World Truck Series, XFINITY Series and Sprint Cup Series all race at AMS. AMS is going back to its Georgia roots this year with pre-race performances from a few Peach State celebrities, including Robin Meade and Mark Willis. They’ll also have some Georgia-grown foods items at the concession stands. “We’re going to really have an emphasis on our Georgia-based food items using peanuts and pecans,” says Dustin Bixby, director of marketing and promotion for AMS. “Speaking of peanuts, we’ve got a great Georgia Peanut Butter and Jelly milkshake that will be sold at the concession stand.” No grandstand ticket is over $99 this year, plus there’s a “perfect weather guarantee.” If it rains or fails to reach 50 degrees (like last year), you can get a credit for next year’s race weekend.(41NBC/WMGT)(2-1-2016)
If NASCAR embraced electric cars it could change the world: an opinion piece from Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy’,a science educator, television presenter, writer and former mechanical engineer. “I have roots in the southern United States. My mom was from Durham, North Carolina, and my sister, nephew, nieces, spouses, their exes, kids and more kids live in and around Danville, VA. Around there, it’s a big deal to go to the races. The boys of various ages, and occasionally some of the girls and women, will pile into vehicles to go see races in South Boston or other tracks nearby.
I’ve been to the track in Martinsville – the ‘paper clip’ – which is still the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit. It’s less than a kilometre long, only half a mile. But it is exciting. The cars go just crazy fast, and they are amazingly loud … or LOUD!! But beyond the heart-pounding, Are-these-cars-going-to-jump-the-barrier-and-kill-me? exciting quality of it, it’s depressing – leastways depressing for me as an engineer. Because here I am trying to envision the smart, efficient transportation technology of tomorrow, and there is NASCAR doing the opposite – celebrating a very old transportation technology of yesterday.
Despite the excitement, NASCAR kinda breaks my heart. It’s a celebration of old tech. It uses gasoline-burning instead of electron-flowing. I wish NASCAR were more like NASA. I wish NASCAR were more about the future instead of the past. I wish NASCAR set up Grand Challenges to inspire companies and individuals to create novel automotive technologies in the way NASA does to create novel space technologies.
To address climate change in the medium and long term, we have to stop, completely stop, burning fossil fuels. The obvious, straightforward, We’re-already-just-about-there answer is to convert our entire ground-transportation fleet – trains, trucks, buses and cars – to electric motors with batteries to store energy the way that gasoline tanks store energy in our fuel-burning vehicles. In the short term, NASCAR could help get us there. We could convert all of our racecars to electricity – right now – and show the public exactly what electrons can do.
Consider the following: a typical NASCAR racecar produces up to 540 ft-lbs (730 Newton-metres) of torque. The Tesla Model-S (sedan), right out of the showroom, produces 713 ft-lbs (970 N-m). A NASCAR vehicle can get up to 850 horsepower (hp) with the car and driver weighing about 3,600 lbs (that’s 630 kilowatts and 1,650 kg). The Tesla produces ‘only’ 532 hp (400 kW), and with a car weighing an extra 1,000 lbs (450 kg). Looking at those last couple of numbers might make you think that the NASCAR vehicle is way more powerful than a high-end electric one. But note well, we are comparing a NASCAR car made to race with a true stock car (one a consumer can buy), albeit an electric one, that has not been refined to compete on racetracks. The gasoline-powered car is a product of a century of development. Just think what an electric carmaker, such as Tesla, could produce given, say, three years.
It’s easy for me to imagine an electric racecar that completely outperforms a gas-powered competitor. Instead of refuelling a gas tank, the electric racecar pit crew would change battery packs. The car would be designed to roll up a ramp. The battery pack would be disconnected and dropped out. Moments later, a fresh battery pack would be lifted into place, and off our electric racer would go with time in the pit comparable to what it takes to refuel and service a conventional gas-powered racecar. Just think what an electric race would be like. It would be faster, and quiet. You could talk to the person next to you.
When I get to thinking about it, NASCAR right now just brings me down. They use ancient tech: carburetors, valve pushrods and cast-iron engines. But the biggest depressor for me is the fuel consumption. These cars get as little as 80 litres per 100 km, or 3 miles to the gallon (mpg). Sometimes they get away with up to 4.5 mpg. That is, to my way of thinking, astonishingly bad.
How about NASCAR becoming NESCAR (National Electric Stock Car Racing)? The sooner NASCAR (or NESCAR) embraces electric drive trains, the sooner the US can be the world leader in automotive technology, and the sooner we can stop pumping carbon dioxide into the air every time we want to go somewhere to get groceries, pick up the soccer team, commute to work or watch a race.”(posted in part……see full article at AEON)(1-27-2016)
Rule change for pit road – wrench color: This is not a ground breaking rule changes but its something that NASCAR wants to see changed. Starting next year, all track bar and wedge wrenches will need be yellow. We don’t know for sure but we’re guessing that it has something to do with being able to see it with the video cameras that NASCAR implemented last year. Once again, that is just a guess as to why they want them all the same color but for years teams have had all kinds of colors on their wrenches. In some cases it was to help the carriers know which wrench was a right side wrench vs. left or even to help determine if it was their track bar wrench vs. wedge wrench. Either way, teams will now all have the same looking wrench for the races. The actual rule book reads as such: 21.2.5 Wrenches a. Wrenches used to manually adjust the track bar and/or left and right side rear jack screw during a pit stop must be painted bright yellow.(Pit Talks)(1-30-2016)
Smaller restrictor plate at Daytona: For Speedweeks at Daytona, there will be a minor reduction in the size of the restrictor-plate holes, which will decrease by 1/64th of an inch to 57/64ths.(NBC Sports)(1-26-2016)
Larger restart zone return in 2016: After doubling the restart zone for many of the races in last season’s Chase, the expanded box will continue to be used this season, along with additional cameras and a senior official monitoring restarts from the pits.(NBC Sports)(1-26-2016)
NASCAR changes inspection schedules: NASCAR will experiment with shorter garage hours but longer inspection periods this season as it tries to give Sprint Cup teams relief on efficiency, expenses and quality of life. Though the schedule will remain virtually the same at Daytona International Speedway, Sprint Cup director Richard Buck said there will be changes the rest of the season. The initial inspection of a race weekend after the NASCAR garage opens is expected to be shortened from five hours to three, and there will be more time built into the inspection between the end of practice and start of qualifying. Last year, prequalifying inspection often turned into a major scramble as teams struggled to pass the laser inspection station. NASCAR changed some procedures after 13 cars missed qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway because of inspection problems. Buck said new methods (mostly involving the use of Microsoft Surface tablets) will make the inspection process more efficient with a goal of also allowing teams to spend less time getting cars ready on Sunday race mornings. Trying to reduce the 12-hour shifts that have become commonplace in the garage is in response to teams that have asked for shorter days in hopes of giving crew members more rest and perhaps saving money by arriving later at the track.(NBC Sports)(1-26-2016)
NASCAR Charter System Still In the Works: NASCAR and Sprint Cup Series team owners continue to work toward an agreement on a possible charter system. While no official word has been given on when the plan may be put into place that would afford owners equity in the series, several key players have spoken on the subject. “We don’t have it finished and it’s still moving around a little bit,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said earlier this week. “The time line is sooner rather than later. This is a complicated plan and structure that will require some time to phase in. We’ll announce things as soon as we can, but I’m optimistic.” Prominent team owners echo France’s sentiment that the plan will be good for the sport when it’s finally completed.
“There’s been great progress,” said Roger Penske. “I’m not sitting in the meetings myself, but we’ve elected a group of people that understands where we’re trying to go. NASCAR and the car owners have been very open. This is a long-term business relationship we’re trying to develop. It has to be done carefully. We have to think about all the constituents and that’s what’s going on, so I feel good about it. Hopefully, we’ll have an outcome shortly.”
Joe Gibbs believes the idea is right but doesn’t want the sport to rush into an agreement. “When two sides want something to happen, generally you can find a way,” he said. “There’s a lot left to be done. Our best hope is that we get it done before Daytona.”(Motor Racing Network)(1-22-2016)
Stewart would like Brian France to be more hands on as a CEO: #14-Tony Stewart wants to see Brian France around the Sprint Cup circuit a whole lot more.
Stewart, who is competing in his final Sprint Cup Series season in 2016, said on SiriusXM Speedway on Thursday afternoon that he would like to have NASCAR’s CEO be present more frequently, both in discussions with drivers and during race weekends. “You never see Brian France,” Stewart said. “He shows up at the drivers’ meeting and you never see him after that. But I picked up what Brian was putting down. And he’s right’s it’s their series and they’ve got to make the decisions. Just because it’s my idea doesn’t mean it’s the right idea. I would like to think in the 37 years I’ve been in racing that I’ve learned a thing or two.”
The entire interview is worth a listen. You can tell that Stewart, perhaps unburdened because it’s his final year as a driver, has carefully thought through what he wants to say. And he made it clear that his words were not designed to pick a fight, but rather as an impetus for improvement. He said communication with NASCAR has gotten better, especially after the formation of the driver’s council. A group of drivers has been meeting periodically with NASCAR executives to exchange ideas and feedback.(Yahoo Sports)(1-22-2016)
NASCAR media tour this week: The real questions of the 2016 Sprint Cup season obviously won’t get answered this week during the annual preseason media days in Charlotte. From Tuesday through Thursday, several drivers and team executives will meet with the media at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and go through the motions, talking mostly blah, blah, blah of being excited that they get to return to racing in a few weeks. Of course they’re excited. They want to race and compete for wins (and make some coin along the way). The drivers will also pump up the new NASCAR rules in hopes of exciting the fan base that the racing will improve over last year. The fans have already seen two races — Kentucky and Darlington last year — that had the foundation of the 2016 package. Those entertaining events make many fans optimistic that the drivers will create more opportunities to pass. The drivers will repeat that hope over and over and over. So what’s there to talk about? A few at least mild surprises will drop, if history repeats itself, but most of the offseason news was made well in advance of this week.
Don’t expect an announcement on what is still expected to be the biggest offseason off-track news: whether NASCAR and team owners can agree on a system that would guarantee a certain number of starting spots, possibly 36 in a 40-car field, to certain owners with a guaranteed amount of revenue. NASCAR and the owners are grinding out the details to try to get the deal done but don’t have total confidence that they will have signatures on paper come February.
NASCAR will kick everything off during the media tour Tuesday and likely will talk about changes, specifically to its Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. The truck garage was abuzz last year about a proposal for competition cautions that would end extended green-flag runs. And both series could see a version of the elimination Chase format come to their series in 2016.(ESPN.com)(1-19-2016)
Pit Road Officiating set to begin second year: The Pit Road Officiating (PRO) technology, returning for its second year with a much higher comfort level entering next month’s Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, was on display earlier this week at the NASCAR Summit, the industry’s annual preseason convention for track services, medical, safety and security workers. The record number of almost 900 attendees for the Summit’s 15th year had the opportunity to tour the PRO trailer firsthand and learn about its intricacies. It turns out that many of the worries about the system heading into 2015 were unfounded. All of the system’s fail-safes performed as expected, and fears that the Pit Road Officiating trailer would be especially nitpicky in identifying infractions never materialized: Last year’s Daytona 500 tallied 29 pit-road violations, compared to 31 for the previous season and 28 in the year before that. The races that followed took a similar pattern.
“We were pretty much really comfortable with everything, but going into Daytona, we were concerned that what if we have 100 penalties,” Chad Little [NASCAR’s managing director in charge of technical inspection and officiating] said. “We don’t want to bog down the race with a bunch of travelling calls. We were real mindful of that, but we didn’t know exactly what we had because it’s a brand-new system. Those things develop throughout the year, but thank gosh we didn’t have any stumbling blocks at Daytona.”
Attendees at the NASCAR Summit received guidelines about how to best prepare their tracks for year two of the Pit Road Officiating structure. The seminar stressed the importance of uniformity in painting the bordering lines to pit boxes and the need to coordinate with NASCAR officials when mounting the 50 cameras that capture pit stop footage during the course of a race. Adhering to those instructions tends to make life easier for George Grippo, NASCAR’s managing director of technology field and media operations. Beyond the PRO system, his responsibilities include the logistics of the trackside TV compound, timing and scoring, user support and maintenance and all the wiring, cables and power needed to make the technology go. The biggest learnings from PRO’s first season, Grippo said, were that camera placement is paramount and that every track presents its own set of obstacles. Bristol Motor Speedway, for instance, had an accommodating roofline but cameras were mounted at much higher angles than a larger track such as Michigan International Speedway, where cameras were placed over the top row at the back of the grandstands at a greater distance. At Sonoma Raceway, cameras were located on a makeshift mount on heavy scissor-lift equipment aimed at pit road.
But even as NASCAR officials learned more about the PRO system’s nuances, teams also picked up a few tricks of the trade. Among them, Grippo said, was the practice of wearing uniforms or shoes that matched the color of pit road — from off-white concrete to the darker grays from more freshly laid asphalt. The lack of contrast, Grippo explained, could potentially help crewmembers muddle officials’ task of determining whether a team member has come over the wall too soon. “The teams are no dummies,” Grippo said. “They see the video, too, because we provide that video for them as a training piece. They can figure some of that stuff out. If I’m going to Dover, I’m wearing a white sneaker so that nobody can tell that I’m hitting the concrete versus a black shoe. They don’t do anything to help us, that’s for sure. They get smarter as we go along.”(NASCAR.com)(1-18-2016)
NASCAR holds Summit for track services, medical, safety, security personnel: With the DAYTONA 500 right around the corner, the men and women who are tasked with the safety, security and organization across NASCAR gathered in Concord, North Carolina, in a collaboration of ideas and advancements. NASCAR’s annual Summit, the largest gathering of track services, medical, safety, and security personnel in the motorsports industry, will concluded Tuesday after three days of professional seminars, training and topical discussions. The Summit began nearly 15 years ago when a small group of attendees gathered in January to share benchmarks and prepare for the upcoming NASCAR season. The 2016 Summit marked the 10th year it was held at the Embassy Suites Concord Conference Center. The Summit features general sessions and smaller breakout seminars and workshops specific to each functional area. This year’s event included more than 30 focused sessions on topics ranging from incident management to severe weather protocol. Senior Communication Consultant for Game On Nation and former NFL player Leonard Wheeler, a renowned expert in leadership development, delivered the keynote address for the event. NASCAR also presented awards to individuals for meritorious achievements in their various fields. Bill Braniff, senior director of construction for International Speedway Corporation’s Design and Development unit, was honored with the Jim Bockoven Lifetime Achievement Award for his exemplary contributions across the NASCAR industry for more than 10 years in the area of track asphalt and maintenance. The full list of those recognized for their work in 2015 includes:
” Above and Beyond Award – Andy “Sippy” Biron, New Hampshire Motor Speedway
” Teamwork Award – Atlanta Motor Speedway Infield Care Center and New Hampshire Motor Speedway Infield Care Center / Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital
” Excellence Award – Jay Nadeau, Daytona International Speedway
” Steve Beres – Director of Security, Daytona International Speedway
” Greg Scott – Senior Manager of Event Operations, Kansas Speedway
” Bill Hindman – Security Manager, Phoenix International Raceway
” Jim Bockoven Track Services Lifetime Achievement Award – Bill Braniff, International Speedway Corporation
” Excellence in Track Services Award – George Ewald, Pocono Raceway
” Track Services Teamwork Award – Road Atlanta
” Track Services Innovation Award – Dan Eakins (R&B Fabrications)
” Track Services Mission Award – Kristina Frederick, Kentucky Speedway
Brian France talks to MRN’s “NASCAR Live”: NASCAR Chairman Brian France praised the elimination-style Chase format, said he’s not for retiring car numbers and reiterated the sanctioning body’s stance on not taking a win away from a team that fails post-race inspection. France made the comments during his annual appearance on Motor Racing Network’s “NASCAR Live” on Tuesday night. France addressed many subjects during the 60-minute show, taking some questions from fans and others from host Eli Gold. Among topics discussed:
On the Chase format, France said: “It’s probably the single best decision that we’ve ever made as an organization to adapt the first-ever, elimination-style in auto racing format.
On if NASCAR should retire car numbers – such as the #3 used by Dale Earnhardt or the #43 used by Richard Petty – France said: “The teams build a lot of their value around that number. Richard Childress is a good example. He’s got a lot tied to Richard Childress Racing with the 3. We’re inclined not to do that.”
On why NASCAR doesn’t strip a win from a team whose car fails post-race inspection, France said: “We prefer always to have when you leave the track to have witnessed the full race, including the winner. That remains our goal. We believe we can punish and deter. If there’s some infraction of significance – rarely happens but sometimes it does – we believe that without taking the win away, we can certainly punish someone effectively and we can deter it in the future from happening again. Sometime, by the way, these infractions are not intentional.”
On Matt Kenseth intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville last year in retaliation for their contact at Kansas, France said: “I was very disappointed and that’s about as nice as I’m going put that. …I’m a big fan of Matt Kenseth in general. What we’re not going tolerate is intentional, changing the outcome of either a race, or in this case a championship. We are going to draw a line, a very clear line. that’s our credibility. If that is tested in the future, it will be a very harsh response on our behalf.”
On finding a new series sponsor with Sprint leaving after this season, France said: “The opportunity is great and it’s going well. I think we’re talking to the right people on where things need to end up. We want to be selective, too. This is perhaps the most marque position in sports because you literally get to entitle your brand within the entire sport and that’s so unique. It’s going really well.”
France also said that the excitement of last season is creating momentum for the start of this season. He said work continues with the owners in creating a charter system in the Sprint Cup Series that would guarantee most teams a starting spot in the field.(NBC Sports)(1-6-2016)
NASCAR Announces Base 2016 Rules Package: NASCAR announced the base NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rules package to be used during the 2016 season. The package was delivered to teams after an extensive collaborative process between NASCAR and industry stakeholders. The base package will include a 3.5-inch spoiler, a 0.25-inch front leading splitter edge and a 33-inch wide radiator pan. These components will provide lower downforce on the cars, and Goodyear will develop tires to complement them. Earlier this season, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kentucky Speedway and Darlington Raceway featured a similar aero package.
“NASCAR has worked tirelessly with our teams, drivers, manufacturers and Goodyear to develop a rules package that provides fans with the best racing possible,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “The success of the races at Kentucky and Darlington in similar trim proved extremely valuable in accelerating rules development for 2016. Now, as teams have even more time to prepare and a strong baseline of data, we anticipate the racing to be even better.”
Characteristics of the lower downforce rules package includes more off-throttle time for drivers and decreasing corner speeds. This generates more passing zones over the entire track, and allows for multiple tire combinations to be levered. In addition to the base package, each track will continue to feature specific rules, including tire combinations and drive train configurations, to create the best racing for each track length, layout and surface. Rear gear ratios will be adjusted to maintain a maximum engine speed of 9,000 RPM and a 1.38 third gear ratio will be used at all tracks smaller than 1.25 miles. The digital dashboard, which was optional for teams during the second half of this season, will be mandatory in all vehicles.
“Our team at the NASCAR R&D Center is constantly looking at the racing, and evaluating ways to continue to improve it,” O’Donnell said. “Using science and technology and qualitative data compiled from world-class engineers throughout the industry as our guideposts, we will always look to make the racing better for our fans.”
Several safety updates have been instituted, including a double NACA duct where a right-hand side window is used, a fire suppression system activation cable routed to the dash or right-hand side leg board and a seat belt restraint system that meets SFI 16.6 specification.(NASCAR)(10-14-2015)
NASCAR to meet with team owners on Tuesday UPDATE: NASCAR will meet with Sprint Cup team owners on Tuesday afternoon at the NASCAR Plaza in downtown Charlotte, NC. The meeting is expected to tackle a number of topics, including competition issues and what the structure of team ownership might resemble moving forward. Since the Race Team Alliance was introduced last July, there has been increased buzz regarding the possibility of franchising or revenue sharing. RTA chairman Rob Kaufmann expects to have some system in place by the end of the year. NASCAR held a competition meeting last Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with team managers, manufacturers and Goodyear to discuss the 2016 Sprint Cup rules package which is expected to be finalized later this week.(Motorsport)(9-29-2015)
UPDATE: Statement from Brett Jewkes, NASCAR Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer: “Earlier today NASCAR met with all Sprint Cup Series owners and presented framework concepts for future qualification to compete in NASCAR’s top national series with an eye toward implementing a new model for the 2016 season. The on-going dialogue with the entire industry has been very good and today’s session was another productive step in that process. NASCAR, the tracks and the team owners all have the same collective goal: making the sport as strong and competitive as it can be for decades to come. “Today’s meeting was one step in the process. There is still a lot of work to be done and that will continue over the coming months. We understand there will be speculation and rumors related to the concepts outlined today, but would caution against coming to any conclusions as we work toward final decisions. When it is appropriate to do so, NASCAR will make an official announcement. In the meantime, we are excited about the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and this weekend’s race at Dover.”(NASCAR)(9-29-2015)
NASCAR to meet with teams at New Hampshire about 2016 rules package: NASCAR will hold a meeting with drivers, crew chiefs, manufacturers and Goodyear next Friday in New Hampshire to help chart the course for the 2016 Sprint Cup rules package. “I think (the rules will) be finalized,” Goodyear general manager of worldwide racing Stu Grant told NASCAR Talk in a Saturday interview at Chicagoland Speedway. “It should be a good session to say here’s where we are going to make sure we’re on the same page.” After receiving rave reviews at Kentucky Speedway and Darlington Raceway, it’s expected the low-downforce package assuredly will be implemented next season at 1.5-mile superspeedways (which comprise the bulk of the schedule with 13 of 36 races). Grant expects much of Friday’s discussion to focus on whether the low-downforce package also would be used at short tracks (Richmond International Raceway, Martinsville Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway) and the bigger ovals (Michigan International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway). The low downforce package is intended to reduce the emphasis on aerodynamics, theoretically enhancing drivers’ ability to pass because their cars aren’t as glued to the asphalt. Aerodynamics typically play less of a role on short tracks, but there was chatter last Saturday after a mostly lackluster regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway that low downforce would work on the 0.75-mile oval.
Grant said Goodyear is a “big fan” of using low downforce more frequently. “It brings tires into play and takes aero away,” he said. “We were really happy with the results we had (at Kansas). We’re big fans of taking the air away. The stress on the tire and loads run for years has been tough at these fast tracks. Take some of the load off the tire, and it gives us more freedom to design. I like that.” Goodyear will begin production on its NASCAR tires by the end of October for next season’s Daytona 500 (though that race wouldn’t feature low downforce). It has scheduled further 2016 testing within the next month at Phoenix International Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway and also will test at Homestead-Miami Speedway in December and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in January.(NBC Sports)(9-20-2015)
Low downforce package again well-received: If there is such a thing as a consensus in NASCAR, the low-downforce aerodynamics package debuted at Kentucky earlier this season may be as close as the sport gets to it. The package, preferred by many of the Sprint Cup Series’ top drivers, was paired with a tire package to match for Sunday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and again received rave reviews. Even in a grueling race that lasted nearly 4½ hours, as the race wound to its conclusion the win was still up for grabs with three drivers – Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick – still in the hunt for the victory. Sunday’s race is the last this season in which the package will be used, a fact reiterated by NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer, Steve O’Donnell, after the race. NASCAR’s initial reaction after the race was very positive and O’Donnell said he expected a decision in a few weeks on whether the package will be used and how often in the 2016 season. “We’ll spend the proper time with the industry – the race teams, the drivers – and have a decision toward the end of the month,” he said. “We’re really pleased with how the race track came together with the “Throwback” idea and I think what you saw was it culminated with a terrific race on the track as well.”(Motorsport)(9-7-2015)
Success of Darlington aero package could help set 2016 rules package: Don’t be fooled by the throwback paint schemes that harken to a bygone era when the Southern 500 was an unbroken tradition at the Lady in Black. This Southern 500 is about NASCAR’s future – not its past. With the return of the low downforce aerodynamic package and a more suitable tire from Goodyear, Sunday’s Bojangles Southern 500 could offer fans a preview of the 2016 Sprint Cup rules packages. “There’s a lot on the line for that race,” said NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We’ll sit down with all our OEM partners, the race teams, talk through all the data we saw from all the races that we’ve run – including the 2015 package – and take a look at what’s the best path forward, not necessarily one package for the entire year, but look at what works on specific racetracks and then go quickly to work and announce something here in the short term.” Before the first throwback design debuted to celebrate a late summer Southern 500, the focus for Darlington switched to a low downforce aero package. A sampling of the configuration at Kentucky earned rave reviews particularly from the competitors. Still, pundits cautioned not to embrace the package just yet. Some noted that Kentucky’s worn out asphalt typically encourages solid racing for an intermediate track. Others pointed to the potential of a Brad Keselowski blowout before miscues thwarted his early dominant performance (where he led half of the first 124 circuits). Yet as O’Donnell said, there is a lot riding on Sunday’s race. NASCAR, race teams and Goodyear have worked overtime to develop a competitive product for the race track. However, unlike the hype surrounding the high drag aero configuration entering Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway, the early Darlington buzz has shifted from competition to throwback themes – including cars, hats and t-shirts – which is curious, considering the industry-wide preparation for this event. Goodyear had not one but two tire tests at Darlington prior to this weekend. The genesis for this weekend’s tire combination dates back to a Charlotte test with the low downforce last December – and a subsequent test at CMS in March. At the first Darlington test in early June, only the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team played with the low downforce package. Goodyear returned on June 30 for the confirmation test with three Cup champions – Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski – running the low downforce configuration. Along with Goodyear, both teams and the sanctioning body have data from running this package (sans tires developed specifically for the configuration) at Kentucky to transfer this weekend’s event.(Motorsport)(9-3-2015)
Chase rules package, 2016 schedule coming soon UPDATES: NASCAR Sprint Cup teams could know within a week what aero package will be used during the Chase for the Sprint Cup and could know within about a month the 2016 schedule, NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. This weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway marks the return of the high-drag aero package first tried last month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While the package was criticized by some drivers after that race, NASCAR hopes the package will work better at Michigan. O’Donnell told “The Morning Drive” on Tuesday that Sprint Cup teams will be told what aero package will be used for the Chase “either towards the end of this week or coming right out of Michigan. Want to lock that in for the race teams. Not lost on us is how much work has been done by all our teams to prepare to even get us to Michigan and then Darlington. We’re really appreciative of the hard work, and we owe it to them to get the word out now and let them prepare for the Chase.” O’Donnell said talks continue as NASCAR looks to finalize the 2016 schedule. As for when the schedule could be ready, O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “I think we’re probably three to four weeks away. We’ve got some work still with the racetracks.”(NBC Sports)(8-11-2015)
UPDATE: NASCAR is expected to meet with Sprint Cup competitors after qualifying tonight at Michigan International Speedway. Among the topics expected to be discussed is what rule package NASCAR will use for the Chase. This comes after Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that teams would be told within about a week what aero package will be used in the Chase. NASCAR has used a low-downforce package at Kentucky (and it will be used next month at Darlington) and a high-drag package at Indianapolis and this weekend at Michigan, along with the rule package used at the other races this season.(NBC Sports)(8-14-2015)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR will stick with its original 2015 rules package throughout the Chase for the Sprint Cup after switching to track-specific packages for a handful of races recently. A high-drag aerodynamic package was used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month and will be in place again this weekend at Michigan, and it received some criticism from drivers. But a low-downforce package put in place at Kentucky was more popular, and it will be used again at Darlington next month. But when the 10-race Chase begins Sept. 20 at Chicagoland, the original rules will be used. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer, announced the decision Friday after a meeting with drivers at Michigan.(Associated Press).(8-14-2015)
UPDATE 3 NASCAR will not experiment with a new aerodynamic package for intermediate tracks in the 2015 Chase, opting to keep the car specifications the same as the teams have used for most of the races. But NASCAR likely will change the restrictor-plate package at Talladega Superspeedway in response to the horrific crash in July at Daytona International Speedway, where Austin Dillon’s car went airborne and was ripped apart by the catch fence with debris entering the grandstands. The five fans injured were either treated at the track or treated and released from the hospital within hours. “There probably will be [changes]. We are still having some discussion with the industry heading into Talladega,” NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said Friday night at Michigan International Speedway. “We have not settled on anything yet, but I think you can anticipate something.” O’Donnell would not go into specifics whether NASCAR would look to slow the cars or if it would try to keep them on the ground with additional pieces to decrease lift.(ESPN.com)(8-15-2015)
UPDATE 4: A NASCAR executive further hinted Monday at change for the Oct. 25 Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said Friday that “there probably will be” rule changes at Talladega when asked about what officials might do in light of what they learned from the Austin Dillon crash at Daytona in July. Monday on “The Morning Drive,” O’Donnell clarified what officials were considering for the Talladega race. “I think that’s more procedural in terms of the race procedures for that event,” O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Don’t want to confuse everyone in terms that we may be changing engines or things like that. We’re just looking at some race procedure things that we may or may not do and still having some conversations within the garage to land on that decision.” Dillon’s crash into the fence at Daytona marked the third time since Feb. 2012 that fans had been injured there across NASCAR’s top three series. All three crashes came on a green-white-checkered finish.(NBC Sports)(8-17-2015)
Drivers met with NASCAR Saturday about aero packages: Sprint Cup competitors met with representatives from NASCAR on Saturday morning at Watkins Glen to discuss aero packages – and when to schedule the next drivers council meeting. Drivers were told the sanctioning body will likely stick with the current aerodynamic package for this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. However, in 2016 NASCAR will incorporate the low-downforce aero package – which was run at Kentucky Speedway last month and will be used again at Darlington Speedway with race-specific tires — at most tracks. If the high-drag aero package, which was used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, enhances the competition at Michigan International Speedway next weekend, then NASCAR would incorporate that configuration on car setups at Michigan, Auto Club Speedway and Pocono Raceway in 2016.(Motorsport)(8-9-2015)
NASCAR considering track-specific aero packages? UPDATES: NASCAR Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell has revealed an interesting new angle in the ongoing discussion about the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series aerodynamic package. In an interview at the American Speedfest event at Brands Hatch, which hosted rounds five and six of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series on June 6th & 7th, O’Donnell told Downforce Radio that NASCAR is considering track-specific aero packages for 2016, and possibly earlier. He said: “I think you’ll look at a little bit more of a set race package, so instead of looking at a 2016 package, you’ll look at it more in terms of putting some packages around certain tracks – not to have it be 36 individual packages, but potentially look at some lower downforce at some (tracks), look at superspeedway packages, kind of cater it to certain tracks.” Fans of the Sprint Cup Series may not have to wait until 2016 for aero changes, as O’Donnell revealed: “You’re going to see us probably make some moves as early as this year, so some exciting things are going on as we head into the second half of the series”. O’Donnell admitted it can be difficult to take all opinions on board. “You’ve got a lot of stakeholders to balance; first and foremost the fans, the owners, the tracks, the OEMs, but ultimately we’ve got to make a decision and stand by that. We try and get as much input as we can, but we’ve got to make a call that we believe is going to grow the sport in its entirety, and that’s our job – not always easy, but we try and make the right decisions to let us all grow in the future.”(Downforce)(6-11-2015)
UPDATE: NASCAR had a teleconference with Sprint Cup teams earlier this week to discuss a lower downforce aero package which could possibly debut as soon as at Kentucky Speedway on July 11th. Teams would have an open test date on Thursday July 11 to shake down the cars. Several sources told motorsport.com that the revised package was tested by the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team and Jimmie Johnson during the Darlington Speedway test on Wednesday. The new configuration would likely include a 3.5-inch spoiler (down from six inches), and 25-inch radiator pan (down from 38 inches) and a shorter splitter. It’s the same package that was expected to be run during the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May but the idea was scrapped. NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp told Motorsport.com, “NASCAR’s commitment includes putting the best racing on the track. All options remain viable at this time.”(Motorsport)(6-12-2015)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR has yet to confirm that Sprint Cup teams will compete with lower downforce cars at Kentucky Speedway, but teams are already testing the cars. When NASCAR told the Sprint Cup teams on Wednesday that a new lower downforce aerodynamic package could be coming for Kentucky Speedway on July 11, the wind tunnels around Charlotte, N.C. started filling up. According to several sources that have seen the numbers from early trips to tunnel, the reductions of downforce with the new configurations will mean 825 to 1,000-pounds less of overall downforce to the cars. Side force dropped roughly 50 to 55 pounds with a reduction of 70 counts of drag horsepower. One engineer told Motorsport.com the sensation for the drivers will be like gaining 110 horsepower under the hood. He added, “A real game changer.” Teams will have four extra hours of practice at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday night.(Motorsport)(6-14-2015)
2016 rules package still not decided: NASCAR chairman Brian France was interviewed on NASCAR Raceday Sunday and asked about pending rules changes for next season:
“Well, we’re not done yet. That’s the number one thing. I realize it’s easy to say, ‘Well, stay where you are. Things were pretty good.’ But our job is to make the better and have closer, tighter racing, where some teams that don’t have the budget of the size of some of the bigger teams have a better shot to win and compete. That’s what we’re trying to do. Are we happy? We’re never happy because whatever package that we come with, the drivers and teams are trying to game that package and gain an advantage on that. That’s what they do. They’re great at it. But my sense of it is we’ll be coming with some things that just keep marching toward our goal of tighter, closer, lower-cost racing, and that’s what our fans want.”(Fox Sports)(6-8-2015)
NASCAR Named “National Treasure”: NASCAR has been named one of the United States’ “National Treasures” by PARADE magazine and will be featured in the widely distributed print edition this Sunday. PARADE’s ongoing series highlights “uniquely American people, places and things that make us very, very happy,” and so has also recognized the Declaration of Independence, the Hollywood sign, Stevie Wonder and potato chips among other “National Treasures.” The NASCAR distinction is supported by Sprint Cup driver Danica Patrick, who describes the sport as “totally American – NASCAR’s roots are true.”(NASCAR Wire Service)(6-7-2015)
NASCAR still considering 2016 rules package: NASCAR seems to be backing off on more changes to Sprint Cup Series cars next season. After scrapping plans to use a proposed 2016 rules package in the Sprint All-Star Race, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said Tuesday the sanctioning body might stick with 2015 regulations next year. “I think we’re still developing what the 2016 package could be,” O’Donnell said. “It could very well be the 2015 package.” O’Donnell said the uncertainty was a major reason the series decided not to feature the rules in the All-Star event, which will take place May 16 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “To go down a path that we felt still potentially needed testing, we didn’t think was the right thing to do,” O’Donnell said. After a decrease of 125 horsepower and a 30 percent reduction in downforce, the plan was for a larger cut in downforce in 2016. But there has been some grumbling among team owners about bearing the costs of a significant rules change for the second consecutive season, and O’Donnell said there had been some pushback among the feedback solicited in the garage. “I think it’s all over the board,” he said. “Some of the drivers would say they’d like to pursue a different direction. Some like it as is who have had success. From the owner standpoint, we certainly have to manage what we’re looking at for ’15 or ’16 and manage constantly putting new rules in front of them. So that’s where we’re at today.” The goal is to have the 2016 rules finalized by Aug. 1, about two months ahead of when the 2015 rules were released. “We’re looking at a number of different options for ’16, including staying where we are,” O’Donnell said. “So we’ll evaluate everything and what we feel like has the best chance of success on the track.”(NBC Sports)(5-6-2015)