As the start of the 2017 season nears closer, NASCAR continues to finalize details surrounding regulations for year. On Wednesday, the sanctioning body released a pair of news stories – a new “Damaged Vehicle Policy” and the addition of a traveling medical staff.
Previously if teams were involved in a crash, they would spend multiple laps behind the wall repairing the car before returning to the track. However, under the new regulations, the repairs won’t be allowed to be so lengthy.
“We have a lot of cars that are going back on the track that end up in 38th position, for instance, that probably don’t need to be out there from a safety and competition aspect,” Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, told NASCAR.com, “because they always tend to bring out more yellows with stuff falling off.”
This addition will be enforced for all three national series – Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series.
While you were allowed to replace body panels previously, teams will no longer be allowed to replace panels, only working with the sheet metal that is on the racecar, whether by straightening or ripping it off. Secondly, teams will only have five minutes from the time that they enter pit road to fix the racecar. If they cannot complete the repairs there, or if the repairs are needy enough that they would’ve previously required a trip to the garage, then the team’s race is over.
“There will be many circumstances and many things happen and you will continue to see it where cars are in wrecks and never go to the garage area,” Miller said. “They come down pit road, they work on things … and they go back out and make minimum speed. They continue to work on the car as the race goes on. That will still completely be in play.”
To try and increase the amount of time teams can spend working on pit road, drivers will not be allowed to speed coming onto or leaving pit road. If they so, they will be assessed a loss of 15 seconds off the five-minute clock. Also, if a team sends too many men over the wall, they will be removed from the race.
“Speeding comes with an additional penalty because speeding in or out is a way to circumvent the clock,” Miller said. “That’s another thing we discussed with the teams and internally. Too many men over the wall is also defeating the purpose of the policy; it would encourage teams to bring extra people well-versed in going over the wall to repair cars. So too many men over the wall just has to signal the end of that car’s day.”
Notably, teams will still be allowed to fix mechanical or electrical failures not sustained in an accident via the garage or pit road, without having to worry about the five-minute clock.
“We’re not going to tell a guy who breaks his transmission at Watkins Glen or Pocono, for instance, and coasts into the garage area that he’s out,” Miller said. “Because that doesn’t create an unsafe situation; that is a mechanical failure.
“It’s more about crashed vehicles and all that is involved with that, from the crew guys to the drivers to dropping more debris on the track, which always happens. … So there are exceptions for mechanical failures, those things can be rectified in the garage. That’s going to be up to the series director’s discretion to make those calls, but it’s not going to be that difficult.”
While the rule change will have an effect on the competition, it will also help NASCAR and officiating as they can monitor repairs easily on pit road, versus having to worry about what is happening in the garage.
“I’ve been involved in crash repairs and that’s not a great situation down there in the garage with 20 people running around, oil leaking on the floor, things catching on fire and sharp sheet metal being cut off,” he said. “It’s a fairly unsafe situation. And at times it would be unsafe really for the driver to get back in a car that was damaged that heavily. There’s nothing that doesn’t come with some downside, but I think there is a lot of upside to where we are going with this.”
Additionally, NASCAR has partnered with American Medical Response (AMR) to expand the capabilities of NASCAR’s medical support model and enhance on-track incident response.
AMR, a recognized leader in the emergency medical services, will add a doctor and paramedic to the on-track safety team for each Cup Series weekend. These pair of members, along with two NASCAR Track Service members, will immediately respond to on-track accidents and access the scene.
“We’re excited about this partnership with NASCAR,” said Edward Van Horne, president and chief executive officer, AMR. “We’re going to work collaboratively with NASCAR and local teams to share best EMS practices and ensure the highest quality of care.”
While this addition will be in place, the rest of NASCAR’s medical standards remain in place. Infield Car Centers will continue to be staffed with local experienced physicians to help main valuable connection with local facilities.
NASCAR feels by combining experience with local practitioners and the AMR team will positively impact their medical process.
“This partnership further strengthens NASCAR’s medical response capability, making our well-established, medical response system even better,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “AMR is a leader in the emergency services sector, and its doctors and paramedics add another layer of expertise to the immediate response team.”
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