NASCAR announces more changes to rules and cars

NASCAR has announced that it will relax some on-track rules, putting racing back in drivers' hands in 2010. The changes, which begin with next month's season-opening events at Daytona International Speedway, will allow drivers to be even more competitive. Race rule changes were one of several announcements during Thursday's annual media-tour presentation at NASCAR's Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said the loosening of on-track reins is another step in enhancing competition and back-to-basics racing. "Over the past 10 years we've dramatically increased safety and that mission continues. However, it's time for us to allow the drivers to drive. We don't want the rules and regulations to get in the way of great racing and fantastic finishes," said France. "NASCAR is a contact sport – our history is based on banging fenders."

Among the changes: Bump-drafting rules will be eliminated at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway. Teams also will use a bigger restrictor plate at Daytona. Eliminating bump-drafting rules puts responsibility for on-track moves squarely back in drivers' hands. Larger restrictor plates give drivers more horsepower.

NASCAR also announced a significant change to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' new car, including replacing the wing currently mounted on the rear of the car with a spoiler. A full-field test is scheduled for March 23-24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Following that, a decision on when to implement the spoiler will be made based on teams' input. The switch from wing to spoiler will return to a more traditional stock-car look. "Over the last couple of years, there have been dozens of changes to this car, with this being the most visible change," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition.

Also significant: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby has been promoted to Managing Director of Competition, with oversight of all three national series' directors, officials, inspection processes and race officiating. He will continue in his series director's role until his successor is found. "Probably no one is more qualified for this new job than John," Pemberton said. "He knows and understands the officiating and inspection processes better than anyone and is the perfect fit."

Other changes announced Thursday:

" Mike Fisher, managing director of NASCAR's Research & Development Center, has some additions to his team. They include Brett Bodine as the director of racing R&D, Tom Gideon as director of safety, R&D, and Jamie DiPietro as manager of safety inspections R&D.

" Beginning with the Feb. 13 season opener at Daytona, NASCAR Nationwide Series teams will be limited to 15 crew members, including the driver, crew chief, spotter and seven over-the-wall pit-crew members. Teams also won't be required to provide a scorer. Last year teams had no limit on at-track crew members.

" NASCAR Nationwide Series teams may run no more than two races in 2010 without using an engine sealed by series officials. Last year they could run three races before using a sealed engine.

" NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams will use double-file restarts "shootout style" in 2010, making restart rules uniform across all three national series. Teams also will return to traditional pit stops, eliminating last year's procedure of refueling and changing tires on separate stops. Teams also may use a new, vented fuel dump can, eliminating the need for a catch can.(NASCAR PR)

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