Changes are afoot in the three premiere NASCAR touring series for the coming 2019 season. Aero packages. Imminent disqualifications. New money challenges. More stringent and earlier pre-race inspections.
NASCAR Makes Changes to Cup Series Horsepower and Aero Packages
NASCAR has fiddled with aero package rules the past two years with drivers mostly enjoying the changes made and fans mostly being confused what the changes meant. In an effort to make racing more exciting and yet safer, the governing body announced they will limit horsepower output to 550 HP every track larger than 1.2 miles but Daytona and Talladega. Short tracks will see HP max out at 750.
Aero changes instituted by NASCAR will be quite similar to those that were seen at the Kentucky race last year. Reigning Cup Champion Crew Chief Todd Gordon told reporters he thinks the changes will make for more exciting racing and feels that his driver Joey Logano will have no problems adapting to the changes as he “always seems to be ahead of the car.” Kyle Busch on the other hand doesn’t seem to like the changes, telling reporters he feels the changes, especially those to HP will make it so “anybody” can drive a car successfully and that eventually it will make the best drivers leave the sport.
Failing an Earlier Post-Race Inspection May Now Disqualify a Driver
Beginning this year race winning cars will no longer be taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center for post-race inspection. Inspections will now be completed at the track. No longer will those found in major violation be given what amounts to little more than a slap on the wrist. Major violations will now result in the driver being disqualified and stripped of any points earned in the race, including stage points. Violators will now have last place finishes recorded and receive the commensurate purse for last place. If a disqualification occurs, everyone will move up one position. Teams will lose all benefits of a win, including playoff eligibility and points. Inspections should take approximately 90 minutes and will be conducted for all three series. This rule change would have removed two wins from the record of Kevin Harvick last year had it been in place for the 2018 season.
NASCAR’s Executive VP of Competition and Racing Development Steve O’Donnell told reporters “Our industry recognizes the need to focus on what happens on the racetrack. We cannot allow inspection and penalties to continue to be a prolonged story line. Race vehicles are expected to adhere to the rule book from the opening of the garage to the checkered flag.” According to NASCAR at least one random vehicle will still be taken to the R&D Center for tear down inspection but no penalties will most likely be assessed.
Changes to Qualifying and Eligibility
NASCAR recently limited the number of races in the other series that Cup drivers can compete in and fans saw that as a good thing. This year they’ve said that only Gander Outdoor Truck Series drivers will be eligible to drive in the series finale at Homestead-Miami. Cup drivers are still barred from competing in the Dash4Cash races in the XFINITY series.
Last year the first qualifying round for all three series lasted 15 minutes round. This year that’s been reduced to 10 minutes. Rounds two and three will remain unchanged at ten and five minutes respectively. Finally, the break/cool-down period between rounds will be reduced from seven to five minutes.
NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Gets Its Own Version of the “Dash4Cash” This Year
The “Dash4Cash races in the XFINITY series make for some exciting racing action. Seeing this, NASCAR has decided to add a similar program to the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series. It’s being called the “Triple Truck Challenge” and will be held at the three June races -Texas, Iowa, and Gateway. Only drivers that have declared for points in the Truck Series will be eligible to win.
This “Challenge” is sure to up the ante on the excitement level at these three races, especially if one driver wins the first two races. Single race winners at these three tracks will take home an extra $50k. Win two and you’ll be taking home and extra $150k, and if you’re able to take the top spot in all three races you’ll be going home $500k richer.