“Rubbing is racing.”
A saying frequently used by auto racing fans and participants alike to denote the inherent aggressive nature of the sport – especially in NASCAR. That saying is about to become fitting for NASCAR yet again.
The company has been cracking down on bump drafting and restricting horsepower to reduce crashes and clean up the sport. Fans quickly showed their distaste for the new restrictions. However, this coming NASCAR season will be met with some changes to placate the fans and reduce the cries of “stale” and “boring.”
The news came today in an official press release on the NASCAR website.
Bill France, CEO and chairman of NASCAR said “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.” He also said that the new rule changes are a way to return to “back to basics” racing.
Among the changes are eliminating rules on bump drafting at Talladega and Daytona Speedways, the two biggest and fastest tracks on the circuit. The elimination of this rule puts the responsibility back on the driver. They are also making the restrictor plate larger for Daytona, increasing horsepower.
The rear wing is also being changed in favor of the more traditional rear spoiler. The spoiler will be tested by all drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway March 23-24, but has already been tested by some drivers at Texas Motor Speedway. The overall reaction was positive.
Brian Vickers, one of the participants in the test told NASCAR.com “I thought [the spoiler] was good.” I thought it added a little bit of front downforce, which is a good thing. I think it’s going to be more accepted to the fans. It looks cooler – a little more retro back to the older car.”
The no-bump drafting rule and the implementation of smaller restrictor plates were put into effect for safety reasons. However, NASCAR officials say with the improvements made in safety over the years, relaxing the rules shouldn’t come at a cost of more danger.
Personnel changes have also been made, such as additions to NASCAR’s research & development team. John Darby has been made the managing director of competition. The Nationwide Series pit crew teams will be limited to 15 members, as opposed to last year’s no-limit teams. In addition, The Camping World truck series will implement double-file restarts and have the option to use a vented gas can in lieu of the catch can.
Drivers and fans alike have been waiting with bated breath for these rule changes since their inception, and they should no doubt make for much more competitive and exciting races.