NASCAR President Mike Helton continued his exclusive two-part, sit-down interview with NASCAR RACE HUB co-host Danielle Trotta on Thursday, June 19, covering topics facing NASCAR heading into 2015, including the move toward a more technologically-policed pit road, a horsepower reduction and the possibility of adding a road course to the Chase.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
ON REMOVAL OF THE HUMAN ELEMENT ON PIT ROAD IN 2015 AND REPLACING IT WITH TECHNOLOGY:
Helton: "We're excited about it, actually, not removing the human element, but about using technology to advance our sport. And this is one of the things that we put on the front burner. One of those components is what we can use, NASCAR can use, and the NASCAR industry can benefit from up and down pit road, being our officials on pit road. We've had, on a couple of occasions, to run beta programs up and down pit road already this year, and so the goal is by '15 for the referees and umpires, so to speak, to be replaced with technology and innovation that fans in the grandstands and fans at home can participate and be interactive with the officiating of the sport."
ON THE TIMING OF THE RELEASE OF THE 2015 NASCAR SCHEDULE AND HOW NASCAR MANAGES THE ‘RIPPLE EFFECT' OF CHANGING ONE RACE DATE:
Helton: "We hope it comes down sooner than later. We're shooting for mid-summer to get the '15 schedule out. The ripple effect part of it is hard to explain. With a 36-race schedule in the matter of 40-some weeks, it's hard to move one and not be impactful to another, several other weekends, quite frankly. We'd start with the '14 schedule to work on '15, plug in the traditional holidays and try to be consistent with those major events that's held those spots for years and then figure out the other conflicts that we may have. But we try to do our best. We work with the race track, the race team and our broadcast partners to come out with what we feel like is a reasonable schedule, if not the best one we can do."
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF ADDING A ROAD COURSE TO THE CHASE NEXT SEASON:
Helton: "I won't sit here and say no but it's not on the short list right now, but I'll never say never to something like that. The road courses have evolved on the NASCAR Sprint Cup side and the Nationwide Series and Trucks to be some of our most exciting events. I think we can put our drivers today against any road racer and hold our own very proudly."
ON THE RUMORED REDUCTION IN HORSEPOWER FOR 2015:
Helton: "That's something we have been working on, and historically through the history of the sport, major issues like changing the body to the Gen-6 is something that has to be done well in advance and for several reasons, some of which is the economy of the sport where the teams have amassed inventory based on the current rules and advance inventory to be used. You don't want to obsolete that instantly with the stroke of a pen if you can avoid that. So we created processes over a year ago with Gene Stefanyshyn now on board to talk with the race teams and to talk with the manufacturers what the next architecture of the motor would be. So that's one conversation that's ongoing. And it's got momentum and we'll eventually see a new architecture of a NASCAR Cup engine, possibly a NASCAR Nationwide, possibly a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In the meantime, we have dialogue going on about how much horsepower, how much rpm, and we find efficient ways to regulate that, whether it's a gear rule or a single part change that everybody's comfortable with. So those are things you'll see short-term but eventually you'll see a new architecture of motors."