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Brian France discusses 'Boy's have at it": NASCAR Chairman Brian France held a press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway Friday, May 20th and discussed many issues in the sport, including, 'Boy's Have at it", the Q&A:
Q. I'm wondering where you personally fall on the boys have at it issue? It's a little tricky in that NASCAR has to maintain law and order, but you get all this outside interest and you bring all these new eyeballs and it gets people talking and it's a real water cooler thing. So where do you personally fall, and what is the proper way to manage that?
BRIAN FRANCE: "Well, I think that's a good question. I think there are limits. You saw one of the limits is that if you put anyone in danger, like what happened with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch where it was after the race had happened. think it's important to note if you look through NASCAR's history, one of the videos that showed the most Wednesday night was the famous finish at Daytona with Richard Petty and David Pearson where they obviously hit each other and spun out in the grass. You go through our history and that's part of it, contact, emotion, in particular late in the race.
We're like anybody. We can over officiate and over regulate in some circumstances, over a 60 year period of time. And I think our point was a couple years ago we thought we might be in a pattern of that, and we wanted to put it more in the drivers' hands.
We never said there were no limits to that. You just can't go around with a missile and a weapon out there. But if you're having contact, that's part of NASCAR. So it's tough for us, but that's what we do. And it's tough for any sport to have certain areas of the game or in auto racing that are subjective as to what is too much, but we'll figure that out.
We're going to remain, obviously, a contact sport, and we're going to remain with the basic philosophy that we're putting more of it in the drivers' hands. If they go over a line we think is there, we'll deal with that."
Q. What does probation mean and why was the All-Star Race included with Kevin and Kyle? A lot of fans are confused by that and think maybe because it's a non-points event that it shouldn't be included.
BRIAN FRANCE: " What probation means is there is a different set of eyes and expectations that are placed on a driver who has been placed on probation. They're going to have a more limited flexibility in how we're going to officiate them should they be in a similar area that they have just violated.
Why it's important to have consistent rules even through the All-Star Races is there are safety elements that are inter-affected between events. There are lots of different reasons why you just wouldn't want to say we're not going to have a standard set of NASCAR rules in the All-Star Race.
Keep in mind, given that there are no points at stake, by definition, it gets more aggressive. We know that. That's fine. Drivers take more chances, they're not worried about where they are in the point standings, so it's going to be more aggressive and more competitive.
But if we took the lid off and said there are no rules or don't worry about any ramifications that might extend into next week at all, then we believe that -- as I said earlier in my remarks -- there has to be limits to all of this. That would be above the limits that we believe going into an event would make any sense.
See full transcript of the interview: Brian France Interview - May 2011.(5-21-2011)

NASCAR "Needed To Send A Message": NASCAR's Senior Director of Communication Kerry Tharp told Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that the $25,000 fines and four-race probations handed down to drivers Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are in response to what happened on pit road after Saturday night's Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, and not for anything that transpired in the final laps of the race. "We look very closely at what happens on the race track," said Tharp. "But more importantly after the race, (where) the actions of those two competitors led to putting some people in harm's way on pit road. We've got to maintain a safe environment on pit road, and we're going to maintain a safe environment there. That's why we reacted with the penalties.
Tharp said NASCAR fined both drivers equally because, "both had skin in the game. Both had opportunities to make other decisions that would not have put them in this situation, so the penalty was assessed to both." He said the sanctioning body has reached out to both Busch and Harvick to clarify what is expected of them going forward, saying, "Anytime we penalize a driver, we have a conversation with that individual and their team owner. We feel like we owe it to both parties to give them a heads-up on what the penalties will be, so they can notify their respective teams and sponsors. We've had conversations with Kevin and Kyle and explained why we were penalizing them."
He said the penalties do not signal a change in NASCAR's "Boys Have At It" policy, adding, "The drivers have done a very good job of that. We've seen some terrific, hard racing over the last couple of years, and I think (the policy) is alive and well. We certainly want it to be.
Newman-Montoya: Tharp said he does not expect NASCAR to sanction either #39-Ryan Newman or #42-Juan Pablo Montoya for a reported physical confrontation during a closed-door meeting at Darlington Raceway last Friday. "You go into some meetings thinking they're going to go well, and most of the time they hit the mark. Sometimes, they don't," he said. "We met with Ryan and Juan Friday and made it clear to them that this was their final warning and we will be watching them very closely. I believe both of them understood where we were coming from. They got the message, loud and clear. They raced hard Saturday night at Darlington, but they raced cleanly. I believe they will continue to do so moving forward."(Sirius Speedway)(5-11-2011)

NASCAR, manufacturers schedule meeting: NASCAR officials and representatives of the four participating manufacturers plan to meet next week in Detroit. It's all informal, of course. NASCAR President Mike Helton likened the meeting with representatives from Dodge, Ford, General Motors and Toyota to the many town hall sessions with teams and drivers over the last few years. "The idea was for us to be better communicators with the stakeholders - the broadcast partners, the tracks, the teams, the drivers," Helton said.(Associated Press)(5-1-2011)

North Carolina Senate picks stock car racing as state sport: The North Carolina Senate has voted to establish stock car racing as the official state sport. The Senate voted 46-3 on Wednesday to crank up the legislation and drive it toward the House after it sat in a committee for nearly two weeks. Republican Sen. Tom Apodaca of Henderson County said lawmakers put the brakes on rival efforts to name the college basketball played at Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the state sport. North Carolina is home to more than 90% of NASCAR Sprint Cup teams and to Charlotte Motor Speedway.(Associated Press)(4-28-2011)

France sues ex-wife, alleges extortion attempt: NASCAR chairman Brian France has sued his former wife, accusing her of tape recording telephone conversations to extort money from him. In a lawsuit filed Friday, Brian France claims his ex-wife, Megan France, has recorded multiple telephone conversations with him without his consent. He is asking a federal judge to issue an injunction barring Megan France from engaging in additional "intercepts of wire communications" between the two and distributing the contents of the recordings. Brian France alleges his ex-wife has offered not to disclose the recordings - keeping them private - if he pays her "substantial sums of money." Megan France's lawyers could not be reached for comment.(Charlotte Observer)(4-16-2011)

NASCAR may let fans stay forever UPDATE voted down: NASCAR fans who consider Daytona International Speedway their home away from home could soon make it their final resting place, too -- albeit less quiet and peaceful than a traditional cemetery. Legislation making its way through the Florida House and Senate would allow construction of an on-site columbarium -- a building or structure that houses urns -- at both Daytona International Speedway and Homestead Miami Speedway. International Speedway Corp. spokesman Lenny Santiago said many NASCAR fans have inquired over the years about having their ashes laid to rest at Daytona International Speedway. "We have a lot of fans that are very, very loyal to NASCAR races and to Daytona in general," Santiago said. "This opens that door, this bill, and we're hopeful that this will get passed." If it passes, the bill would become law July 1. It has been approved by two House committees and has its first Senate committee hearing today. Daytona International Speedway doesn't have a proposed location for the structure yet or any timeline for building it until the bill passes, Santiago said, although it would be somewhere public that fans would be able to see. He also said he didn't know what kind of fees the Speedway might charge to fans looking to place their ashes there.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(3-29-2011)
UPDATE: Racing fans who might have dreamed of making the Daytona International Speedway their eternal home had their hopes dashed Tuesday as a Florida Senate committee voted down a bill that would have made those dreams possible. The Senate Committee on Regulated Industries rejected the bill by a 5-7 vote, which would have allowed columbariums to be built at both Daytona International Speedway and Homestead Miami Speedway. Columbariums are buildings that house urns. The state House companion bill had already passed two committees and was scheduled for its third and final committee hearing Thursday. "I just felt very strongly that to have people's remains, cremated remains, at the same place where there's NASCAR racing and a motorsports entertainment complex was not appropriate," said state Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs, D-Delray Beach, the committee's vice chairwoman. "A lot of that has to do with the fact that I love NASCAR, and I love Daytona, and I didn't want it to turn into a partial cemetery."(Daytona Beach News Journal)(3-30-2011)

Minnesota Congresswoman wants to ban military from NASCAR sponsorships UPDATE: Rep. Betty McCollum wants to put the brakes on the Defense Department's 10-year sponsorship deal with NASCAR racing teams, saying the multimillion-dollar recruiting effort is a waste of money. The Minnesota Democrat is also dubious that stock car sponsorship has much to do with enlistment numbers or troop readiness. "This is not only putting a sticker on the car. This is paying for a racing team," Ms. McCollum's chief of staff, Bill Harper, told Washington Wire. "That doesn't contribute to military readiness." The amendment is one of more than 400 that lawmakers want attached to Rep. Paul Ryan's spending bill to fund the government through Sept. 30. Ms. McCollum's office estimates the Pentagon has spent more than $100 million on its own NASCAR teams. Col. Derik Crotts, director of the army's sponsorship, told Washington Wire in an email that the Army spends $7 million a year on its racing team, and finds it valuable. "Youth surveys show that motorsports is a passion point for young Americans," wrote Col. Crotts. "It is critical that the Army use these passion points to communicate with prospects and their influencers." He continued, "In a 2009 among nationwide fans, 37% feel more positive about the Army due to its involvement in motorsports."(Wall Street Journal)(2-16-2011)
UPDATE: Congresswoman Betty McCollum's amendment to ban military sponsorship of NASCAR teams suffered a defeat Friday night but she is pressing forward with the amendment. After a brief period of debate on the amendment, which McCollum introduced Monday, a voice vote was held with the no votes prevailing. McCollum (D-Minn.), however, "demanded a recorded vote and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of adoption of the amendment until a time to be announced,'' according to the website for the Office of the Cleak for the U.S. House of Representatives. So, the matter is not dead. In essence, she wants everyone's vote to be recorded publicly instead of hidden behind a voice vote.(Virginian Pilot)(2-18-2011)
Death Threat: Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum received a death threat on Wednesday over her proposal to end Pentagon funding for NASCAR. McCollum said she thinks the army-sponsored car is a waste of taxpayers' money and should be eliminated. The fax received by her office contained vulgar language directed at the congresswoman, telling her to shut her (expletive) "pie hole," and featured a cartoon of President Barack Obama's head being pulled behind a truck in a noose. The letter also called for the deaths of all Marxists, and referred to the president, McCollum and Attorney General Eric Holder as "Marxist thugs." The violent imagery and phrases come just one month after Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot at a campaign rally, despite public campaigns for more reasoned and respectful political discourse.(myfoxtwincities.com)(2-18-2011)
Lawmakers reject congresswoman's effort to stop NASCAR sponsorship: The House has voted to let the Pentagon continue using taxpayer dollars to sponsor NASCAR race teams. By a 281-148 vote, lawmakers rejected an effort by Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum that would have ended the practice. McCollum aides said the Army is spending $7 million on a sponsorship this year, and the Air Force and National Guard are spending additional money. Most Democrats backed McCollum's effort, while Republicans voted overwhelmingly against it.(Associated Press)(2-18-2011)

NASCAR Revises Its Garage Access Policy: Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway not only opens up the 2011 NASCAR racing season, it also opens the garage gates to some very important fans. A revision in NASCAR's garage access policy allows an adult with approved access, either via annual credential (hard card) or a single event license (SEL), to bring his or her children in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garages on race days. The policy is in effect only during the "cold" pre-race period. Each child will be issued a special credential. There is no minimum age requirement. Some "Need to Know" parameters for this new policy:
* Parents must complete a minor's release form prior to receiving a minor's credential.
* Releases and credentials will be available at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series registration hauler or at the garage location.
* NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series children credentials will be available at those series' at-track registration locations.
Also updated for 2011: The dress code for all NASCAR pit and garage areas. Attire must remain appropriate for both a major sporting event and a family environment, but has been relaxed to include shorts, open-toed shoes, sleeveless blouses and skirts/dresses.(NASCAR)(2-17-2011)

NASCAR Tweaks rules to limit drafting UPDATE plate smaller: NASCAR officials announced two technical changes Sunday evening aimed at preventing the sustained two-car drafts that dominated Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said the body issued a bulletin to race teams with the following specifications:
• The maximum size for the air inlet for the cooling system will be 2½ inches tall by 20 inches wide.
• The pressure release valve on the water system will be set at 33 pounds per square inch.
The intent is to set up the cars so they can't push each other in two-car tandems for extended runs without overheating. Teams try to line up drafting partners at Daytona and Talladega so they can overcome the limitations of the restrictor plates used to keep speeds down at those two tracks. "That will bring down the temperatures so the teams can't run at 290 or 300 degrees [without overheating] on the extended push of 30 or 40 laps," Pemberton said. "This will put [the water temperature in the engines] back in the 250-degree range." Several drivers, crew chiefs and team executives expected NASCAR to control the pressure relief valve. Jamie McMurray, who finished second to Kurt Busch in the Shootout, said many cars had valves that allowed the temperature up to 300 degrees before boiling over. That allowed the second car in the two-car draft to push longer without overheating -- some for more than a dozen laps -- under Saturday's cooler outdoor temperatures. The weather is expected to be warmer for Thursday's qualifying races and the Daytona 500.(see full story at ESPN.com)(2-13-2011)
UPDATE - NASCAR makes change to restrictor plate: NASCAR announced Wednesday morning that the Sprint Cup teams will now use a 57/64 inch restrictor plate at Daytona for the Gatorade Duel and Daytona 500. The 1/64" plate is smaller then the 29/32nd inch plate that was being used. The change will reduce horsepower 12-13 hp and slow the cars down a bit.(SPEED coverage of rain delayed practice)(2-16-2011)

NASCAR Lowers Age Limit For Touring Series: NASCAR announced it has lowered the minimum age for drivers competing in its regional touring series to 15. The change, effective immediately, will be applied to drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. In a corresponding move, the Learner's Permit License for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will be applicable for all divisions at NASCAR-sanctioned tracks. The Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR's national championship program for its more than 55 sanctioned short tracks across North America.(NASCAR)(2-13-2011)

Change in Sprint Cup qualifying? NASCAR is considering a new system that would change the order of qualifying. Instead of drawing for qualifying order as teams have done in previous seasons, the qualifying order would at least in part be determined by speed in the practice prior to qualifying. Teams in the Camping World Truck Series already use the system [a few times in 2010]. "It is a possibility. ... We're throwing a bunch of ideas around in the meetings with the teams," NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said Friday. "We want to finish all the meetings, get everybody's input and then finalize some stuff." The idea is to have the faster drivers, the ones who will challenge for the pole, qualify near the end of the session and add drama to the qualifying show. It is possible that the drivers not locked in the field because their teams are outside the top 35 in owner points will still be grouped together at the end of the session.(SceneDaily)(1-22-2011)

Some highlights from Friday's NASCAR Press Conference: NASCAR president Mike Helton and vice president of competition Robin Pemberton held a press conference at Daytona International Speedway on Friday. Some notes and highlights:
NASCAR president Mike Helton confirmed Friday that drivers will be allowed to race for only one championship this season. The rule is designed to prevent Sprint Cup drivers from dominating the second-tier Nationwide Series. Full-time Cup drivers have won the last five Nationwide titles. Helton also said NASCAR is leaning toward a simpler points system for all three of its national series. Helton says bonus points would be added to put an emphasis on winning races (ESPN).
Helton also indicated that a new points system is coming to the top three series. It likely will be one in which points are awarded one per position from with the winner getting 43 points and the last place driver just one. There likely will be bonus points offered to encourage drivers to race for wins and to keep championships from being decided by consistency alone. And there are expected to be provisions that allow drivers who don't finish the regular season in the elite group but have won races to have a shot at being added to the Chase field. He said the goal is to make the points system easier to understand for casual fans as well as those more familiar with the sport.
The rookie of the year program also is expected to undergo some changes. With no rookie drivers signed up to run full-time in Cup this year, adjustments likely will be made to deal with a rookie like Trevor Bayne, who is signed to drive the Wood Brothers' #21 Ford but only has 17 races scheduled this year.
Helton said starting times for Cup races, which were standardized last year, could see some changes. He said the times might need to be adjusted given the length of the NASCAR season. Last year, races started just after 1 pm, 3 pm. or 7:30 pm depending on the location of the track.
NASCAR appears to be on pace to switch from carburetors to fuel injection, but fuel injection won't be used in points-paying Cup races this year. Cars will run on an ethanol blend fuel and a new fueling system that doesn't require a traditional vent will be used.(RacinToday)
Helton also said the sanctioning body has not made a decision concerning possible changes to the championship point systems for the 2011 Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. He admitted, however, that the move is receiving serious consideration in an attempt to make those championships simpler for fans to understand. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France is expected to announce the sanctioning body's final decision next Wednesday (Sirius Speedway)(1-21-2011)

NASCAR may scrap points system? UPDATE: NASCAR is considering scrapping the points system it has used since 1975 in favor of a simpler method that awards points per finishing position. The overhauling of the system is one of a handful of changes NASCAR is considering implementing before the season begins next month. Series officials have been detailing their ideas in individual meetings with teams. The sanctioning body wants to go to a scoring system that would award 43 points to the race winner, and one point less for each ensuing position down to one point for the 43rd-place finisher. NASCAR is also shying away from wholesale changes to its Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format. Teams have been told NASCAR is leaning toward keeping it a 12-driver field, with one caveat: The top 10 drivers following the 26th race of the season would qualify for the Chase, while the remaining two spots would go to the drivers with the most wins who are not already eligible for the Chase. Preseason testing begins Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, and NASCAR president Mike Helton and vice president of competition Robin Pemberton are scheduled to discuss some of the changes planned for 2011. But the major announcements aren't scheduled until next week when France makes a presentation during Charlotte Motor Speedway's annual media tour. NASCAR is still debating how to award bonuses under a straight points system, and ideas being considered are for anywhere from one to three points being given to lap leaders and race winners.(in part from the Associated Press)(1-17-2011)
UPDATE: Ramsey Poston, NASCAR managing director of corporate communications, said the sanctioning body has bounced several new competition ideas around to drivers and car owners in a recent series of town hall meetings. "NASCAR executives, including chairman and CEO Brian France, are in the process of meeting with drivers and team owners," Poston said in a phone interview Monday night. "In those meetings we have discussed a number of ideas for potential changes for the coming season, none of which have been finalized at this point." NASCAR president Mike Helton and vice president of competition Robin Pemberton will address 2011 rule changes in a news conference scheduled Friday at Daytona International Speedway. "We need to balance stories from past and look to the future to make things better," Speedway president Joie Chitwood III said from his home Monday night.
Darrell Waltrip won three Cup championships during his driving career, all with the current points system [but no Chase]. Contacted at his home near Nashville, Tenn., Monday night, he said changing the points would have little effect on who wins the championship. "If you run the numbers, I guarantee you it comes out the same," said Waltrip, now a racing analyst for Fox Sports. "It's all perception. I've said all along, when we can't explain it, so the people at home can understand it, it needs to be addressed. If you look at the history, 90% of the time, the championship comes down to two guys, sometimes three." Chitwood said he hopes to see the change because it would make the points system easier for fans to understand. "We can never stop improving our sport, whether it is what we do at the track or what NASCAR does to manage competition," Chitwood said.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(1-18-2011)

Drivers must choose which series to run for championship: Drivers in NASCAR's three national series will have to elect a single championship to chase in 2011, eliminating the ability of drivers such as Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Paul Menard -- who were full-time double-dippers in 2010 -- to chase two championships at once. NASCAR has scheduled a "competition update" on Jan. 21 with NASCAR president Mike Helton and vice president for competition Robin Pemberton as part of the "Preseason Thunder" Sprint Cup test session at Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp declined to comment on the change in 2011 license applications Monday except to say, "I'm sure we can answer all your questions at our competition update." But when Kenny Wallace picked up his 2011 NASCAR competition, membership and license application last Saturday while taking a break from a Grand-Am Rolex Series test at Daytona, he knew at least one rumor was true. Wallace stopped on his way to the U.S. Post Office on Monday to tear open his license application and read the news. "The brand-new license forms that are out, there's a box and in it, it states that you have to mark -- put an X -- what championship you're running for," Wallace said, quoting his application. "A driver will only be permitted to earn driver championship points in one (1) of the following three series: NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Please select the series in which you would like to accumulate driver championship points. Choose one."(NASCAR.com)(1-11-2011)
NASCAR changing dress code in garage: According to a tweet by Ramsey Poston, NASCAR's Managing Director of Corporate Communications, the organization is changing the required dress code for visitors in the pits at races next season: "Another fan friendly move - NASCAR dress code in garage & cold pits now includes: shorts, short sleeve/sleeve-less shirts & open-toed shoes". The rule will not apply to hot pits. In previous years, the policy required everyone to wear long pants, close-toed shoes and shirts that fully covered the shoulders.(12-10-2010)

Supposedly a driver to be allowed to only race for points in one series: Nationwide Series teams expect that NASCAR will allow Sprint Cup drivers to compete in as many Nationwide races as they want next year, but that they will not earn points toward the series championship. NASCAR has not announced the change, but Nationwide owners believe that when a driver applies for his NASCAR license prior to the season, the driver must declare whether he is racing for points in Cup, Nationwide or the Truck Series. "I don't think the Cup guys are going to be getting points at all if they're running the Nationwide Series," team owner Rusty Wallace said last week. "Once they get their license, they're going to have to commit, do you want your points in the Nationwide Series, do you want your points in the Truck Series or do you want your points in the Cup Series? That's just a guess." It's a guess confirmed by other Nationwide team owners and the most likely scenario, according to NASCAR sources. NASCAR Chairman Brian France said an announcement would be made in January about the exact changes. The last five years have seen full-time Cup drivers win the Nationwide title - Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. Only two races last year were not won by Cup regulars - Justin Allgaier at Bristol and Boris Said at Montreal. Keselowski and Edwards say they are committed to run full schedules next year, not just to their sponsors but to the crews that work on the cars (SceneDaily)(11-25-2010)

NASCAR still looking at Cup driver limits in Nationwide: Nationwide teams still are waiting for a NASCAR decision on whether Sprint Cup drivers will be limited from participating in the series next year. Brad Keselowski is poised to become the fifth consecutive Cup driver to win the Nationwide title.
Nationwide team owner and ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace says NASCAR is deciding between three options:
1) Limit the number of Nationwide races that Cup drivers can enter;
2) allow Cup drivers to run the full series but not earn points;
3) alter the structure so that Cup drivers can't earn as many points as Nationwide drivers.
"I just want the points system structured where Cup guys can't win the title," Wallace said. "If I didn't have any involvement in the sport, I'd probably say the same thing. Because everyone I talk to all say that's all (baloney), it's not fair those Cup guys go in there to try to steal candy from the other cats. That's the way the regular fan thinks. They say it all the time."(USA Today)(11-6-2010)

France talks about possible changes coming to sport: NASCAR's Brian France talks about possible changes coming to sport & why TV ratings are down. Changes to the Chase? A change to the starting times of races? NASCAR Chairman Brian France hinted at such things and gave his idea for why TV ratings have declined this season in an interview Friday on "Sirius Speedway'' on Sirius Satellite Radio. A few tidbits from the article:
QUESTION: This is what the Chase was supposed to be like (with three drivers so close this late in the season)
BRIAN FRANCE: "It is. It's supposed to, obviously, be very competitive and make it where the driver who is at his best when it really matters, which, of course, is down the stretch. That's what everybody wants to see. We're thrilled that it's turning out that way. This is going to be a telling weekend. Looking forward to kicking off the final three here in Texas this weekend.''
QUESTION: With the Chase going as well as it is, are there still discussions going on at NASCAR about further tweaks to the Chase or have those been put on the backburner now?
BRIAN FRANCE: "No, I don't think so. I think it's this time of the year when we do a lot of things in terms of looking at what is the best rules package or format in the case of the Chase or whatever it might be. We've announced a few weeks ago going to ethanol and our first biofuel, which is really important for us to keep a slow steady step in the green space and doing what's best for the environment and energy independence. When it comes to the Chase, what we want is big moments where drivers and teams have to be their very best on a given day, that's what creates the atmosphere we want and we'll be looking to make sure we have the perfect format going into 2011.''
QUESTION: Wide spread reports about new look for Cup cars in 2013. Is NASCAR now fully convinced and buying into manufacturer's demands for more brand identity?
BRIAN FRANCE: "We've always bought into that. It takes on different points of view as you go along. Clearly we're going to have more technology in the race cars, we'll do that carefully. What we don't want to do is mess up the competitive balance or run the cost up unnecessarily for the team owners. That's always one of NASCAR's foundational issues. So, we'll be looking at that carefully. On the other hand, technology in the cars that are selling today are ever more important. You saw the biofuel was not just because we have our own green initiatives, we want to be in step with the car manufacturers, they know how important that is. It's fair to say with the look of the car, we'll be looking to make sure that Chevrolet, Toyota, Dodge, Ford and all of them and maybe some other manufacturers who look at NASCAR down the road will have plenty of brand identification and plenty of technology and other things that are relevant to their brands.''
(see full article at the Virginian Pilot)(11-6-2010)

Could there be short fields next season? With Richard Petty Motorsports shrinking from four to two cars next season (or potentially none if the ship isn't righted) and now Robby Gordon announcing he won't run a full season in 2011, the potential for short fields now becomes a real possibility next year. That prediction was made two years ago by many but never came to fruition. The economic pressures of the sport may catch up with that prediction after all.(Motor Racing Network)(11-1-2010)

NASCAR tweaks wave-around rule for Cup, Nationwide: NASCAR has tweaked its rule on wave-around cars under caution. The new rule now dictates that cars under penalty at the time of the caution are ineligible for the wave around. The change began last week with the Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway after a situation came up in the Nationwide Series race that was new to the double-file restart system instituted in June. In the Nationwide race, Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards was penalized for speeding under green, and then the caution came out. He stayed out and didn't pit and then was among those cars on the end of the lead lap. He then got the "wave around" the caution car (along with the rest of the cars that had stayed out and were on the end of the lead lap) to get to the rear of the line of lead-lap cars. Edwards then went to the end of the line to serve his penalty. That move would not be allowed anymore. The driver would not get the wave around and would start a lap down at the rear of the field on the restart, the penalty for a driver who had a speeding penalty under green but never served it before the caution came out. The new rule in general is any driver under penalty is no longer eligible for the wave around.(SceneDaily)(10-11-2009)

NASCAR lowers age for some series: NASCAR announced it was implementing a Learner's Permit License for its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks beginning in 2010. The license will lower the age-limit for NASCAR-sanctioned tracks' entry-level division from 16-years-old to 14. The change provides an intermediate step for young drivers looking to make the move from non-NASCAR beginner-level racing series to running at their NASCAR home track. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR's national championship program for its more than 55 sanctioned short tracks across North America. More than 10,000 drivers compete in the series annually.(NASCAR)(9-3-2009)

No speedometers planned for NASCAR: Some drivers would like a speedometer added to their cars, or have NASCAR's electronic timing system that records the pit row speeds refined to cut down on possible error. "I have wondered why we don't have speedometers," veteran driver Mark Martin said Friday. "The tachs are not quite as accurate as a speedometer might be. But the system works. It's just really devastating when you have one of the races of your life slip through your fingers." Could NASCAR make the switch from RPM to mph on the dash? Not so fast. Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said the tachometer was the most reliable factor in determining pit row speeds. "They get multiple usages out of a tachometer as an engine meter as well, without having to bother with the expense and the troubles of adding another piece of equipment to the car," Darby said at Pocono Raceway. "The tachometers today are so sophisticated that teams can actually program their pit road speed into the tachometer." Most teams have even added a lighting system to the tachometer. A green light means a driver's speed is in the clear, yellow signifies he is pushing the limit and red means the speed is over the limit. "In NASCAR's defense, the system that they have, you can't dispute it," four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said. "I would dispute the person that feels like they're in the wrong, because their system is very accurate." There have been 75 speeding violations in 20 Cup races this season, Darby said. NASCAR does not warn teams when they're on the edge of speeding or give them a chance to plead their case. Speed once coming in or out of the pits, and a penalty is instantly assessed. "The teams know exactly where they're supposed to be," Darby said. "They know where the threshold is." Darby also said there are no plans to reveal pit road speeds to fans or the rest of the field during a race. "If you have put your combination together and you're real confident in your driver and you've got him set to where you think he can run 3½ miles over all day long without getting caught, that's their business," he said. "We shouldn't display that to the other 42 competitors to let them figure out how they did it." NASCAR switched from a stopwatch system to electric timing in 2005 to provide a more legitimate way of assessing pit road speeders.(Associated Press)(8-4-2009)

NASCAR Announces "Double-File Restarts - Shootout Style": NASCAR announced a change to its race format with the addition of "Double-File Restarts - Shootout Style" throughout each race. Beginning with this weekend at Pocono Raceway, the first- and second-place drivers will line up side-by-side as the green flag flies for each restart. "We've heard the fans loud and clear: 'double-file restarts - shootout style' are coming to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. "This addition to the race format is good for competition and good for the fans."
NASCAR recently used the "double-file" format for its non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, which produced an unpredictable finish. The format will be adapted for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the near future. Under the previous format, cars on the lead lap would restart in a single-file line while cars that had been lapped would start in a line next to them. Under the new format, the race leader will have the option to restart on the inside or outside lane. The second-place driver would then restart next to the leader. Regardless of where the leader starts, drivers in odd number positions (3rd, 5th, 7th places, etc.) will restart on the inside lane, while drivers in even number positions (4th, 6th, 8th places, etc.) will restart on the outside. All restarts will use the same format regardless of the number of laps remaining in the race.
The first-place driver will continue to control the timing of restarts in a designated zone on the track. Likewise, cars are to stay in line until they reach the start/finish line. The first eligible car a lap or more down will continue to earn one lap back following a caution, which is known as the "free pass." However, a new element beginning this week will be that the "free pass" will remain in effect the entire race [before it was all race until 10 or less laps to go, then none was awarded]. Lapped cars choosing to remain on the track will be "waved around" the caution car and will restart the race in respective track position, thus picking up a lap to the leader provided the leader also pits. This will also remove lapped cars from behind the pace car, allowing the leaders to take the green without interference [so the leader will not restart in the middle of the pack].(NASCAR)(6-4-2009)

NASCAR creates formula for setting restart zone: NASCAR has established a formula for determining the length of the restart zone on the track. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway that officials will take the pit-road speed limit, double that figure and then set that as the distance in feet of the restart zone. At the start of this season, NASCAR created a zone where the leader must restart the race instead of giving the leader discretion from a certain area coming out of Turn 4 up to the starting line to restart the race. The rule is designed to create a more consistent restart at each track. Pit-road speeds typically range from 30 to 55 mph, depending on the length of the track. That means the restart zone will vary from 60-110 feet, depending on the track. "It will be twice the pit-road speed," Pemberton said. "It's a means to get variable lengths in there for the race track itself. It's something the garage area asked us to do. Is it perfect; maybe, maybe not. But, it's a start."(NASCAR Official Release)(3-7-2009)

NASCAR does not check video on rainout finishes: Jeff Gordon told his team last week after the Daytona 500 that he believed he could have been scored 12th instead of 13th in that Sprint Cup race, depending on the interpretation of NASCAR rules and policies. The final verdict: He was 13th. Here's why Gordon was confused: When the caution comes out during a race, the field is frozen and reset to the previous scoring line. Depending on the track, there are a dozen or so scoring lines spread throughout the oval. But NASCAR policy is that on the last lap, it uses video in addition to the scoring lines to determine the final position. Gordon believed he had passed David Reutimann after passing the scoring line, but before the caution came out for rain in the Daytona 500. NASCAR later called the race because of rain. Gordon crew chief Steve Letarte discussed the situation with NASCAR officials after the race to learn about the interpretation, which was that NASCAR will only use video on the final scheduled lap or green-white-checkered situation. "We use the [non-video freezing] of the field because we didn't know that we weren't going to go back [racing]," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Friday at Auto Club Speedway.(Scene Daily)(2-23-2009)

NASCAR evaluating new restart rule: UPDATE: NASCAR is evaluating the 50-foot distance announced at the Budweiser Shootout as the new standard for the leader to restart an event. It could decrease from track to track based on driver input, officials said. Under the new rule, the leader has between the double-red line 50 feet from the start-finish line and single-red line at the start-finish line to start the race. Otherwise, the starter on the flag stand will start the field.(ESPN.com)(2-14-2009)
UPDATE: NASCAR has increased the restart zone for the leader to restart the race from 50 feet to 110 feet. Prior to this season, drivers had the entire distance from the restart line (typically coming out of Turn 4) to the starting line in order to mash the gas and restart the event. NASCAR created a 50-foot restart zone last week at Daytona International Speedway. If a driver didn't restart the race by the end of the zone, the flagman would wave the green and restart the event. That distance apparently was too small. NASCAR has increased the length to 110 feet for the races at Auto Club Speedway in California this weekend.(Scene Daily)(2-22-2009)

NASCAR Amends Substance Abuse Policy: NASCAR announced today it has amended its longstanding substance abuse policy to include random testing beginning in 2009. The amended policy mandates that all drivers in NASCAR's three national series be tested prior to the start of the 2009 season. Team owners must also verify that all licensed crew members have been tested by a certified lab prior to the start of the season. In addition, NASCAR will test its officials prior to the start of the 2009 season. Drivers, over-the-wall crew members and NASCAR officials thereafter will be subject to random tests throughout the year. "We have made a very good policy even better with the addition of random tests," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. "NASCAR's policy has long given us the ability to test anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Random tests now provide us and the industry with additional information." NASCAR's substance abuse policy has always prohibited the misuse or abuse of any drug. This means that a violation of the policy can be triggered with the use of any drug or medication if NASCAR believes it has been abused or misused. NASCAR's sweeping policy of reasonable suspicion remains in effect. Penalties for violation of NASCAR's substance abuse policy will continue to be among the toughest in sports - immediate suspension from competition. Competitors that violate the policy will continue to be required to meet detailed criteria prescribed by NASCAR's outside experts in order to be considered for reinstatement. While it is possible that a competitor could receive a lifetime ban for just one violation, a third violation will automatically result in a lifetime ban. NASCAR will continue to work with its outside experts at AEGIS Sciences Corporation and Dr. David L. Black. AEGIS, which has worked with NASCAR on designing and implementing its substance abuse policy, is the largest independent sports and forensic certified testing laboratory in the United States. AEGIS personnel will be responsible for the administration of all preseason and random substance abuse tests.(NASCAR PR)(9-20-2008)

How the four team rule works: Teams are permitted to enter a fifth car for a maximum of seven races for a rookie to get the driver familiar with Sprint Cup competition. So when DEI entered Regan Smith, who had run 20 Cup races to that point at Watkins Glen in August 2008, NASCAR determined he did not fit the criteria for the fifth-car exception, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. DEI would have been allowed to put Aric Almirola in that car because Almirola has five starts at that point in the series, Tharp said. Almirola, who will take over driving the #8 car in 2009, already was entered in the #8 car for The Glen in place of veteran Mark Martin, who is driving the majority of the Cup races this year while Almirola fills in the rest. "We brought it to their attention that [Smith] would not be permitted to run in the fifth car," Tharp said. "We told them they could move Aric Almirola into that fifth entry. They went back to discuss it and decided not to enter the fifth car.(SceneDaily)(8-7-2008)

NASCAR Fine Payments Going to NASCAR Foundation: NASCAR announced that starting this season, all money collected from fines issued to drivers will go to the NASCAR Foundation for its charitable initiatives. "Now that the NASCAR Foundation is well established and supporting dozens of charitable organizations it is the logical place for fine money to be distributed," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. "We are excited to be able to work with our charities and help them develop a program that will maximize the impact they can have with their organizations," said Sandy Marshall, executive director of the NASCAR Foundation.(NASCAR PR)(1-21-2008)

Past Champions Limited To 6 Provisional Berths in Cup: NASCAR announced today an update to the past champion's provisional rule in the Nextel Cup Series for 2007. Beginning this season, a past champion's provisional may be used by an eligible driver a maximum of six times over the course of the season. In addition, a team with a past champion eligible driver may only use this provisional a maximum of six times during a season. Previously, there was no limit on usage of the past champion's provisional over the course of the 36-race season. The provisional gives the eligible driver the 43rd and final starting position in the race field. "As NASCAR seeks to place more emphasis on competition, we have decided the time is right to limit the number of provisionals allowed," said NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton. "We believe this revision brings the provisional policy in line with the continued growth of the sport."(NASCAR PR)(1-31-2007)

Green-White-Checker OFFICIAL and: A "green-white-checkered" finish format will be used for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series beginning with next weekend's races at New Hampshire International Speedway, NASCAR officials announced today. "The green-white-checkered format is an attempt to achieve everyone's goals - a green-flag finish," NASCAR President Mike Helton said. "This change hopefully will provide competitive finishes in the relatively rare occasions it is warranted. This format has been successful in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and considering the tight competition week in and week out in the other two national series, we feel the time is right to use the same procedure in all three national series."
The new procedure will consist of a restart of two laps - green flag for the first lap of the restart and the white flag signaling the final lap leading to the checkered flag. All additional laps will be counted and scored. The new format will not guarantee a green-flag finish. Only one restart under the "green-white-checkered" format will be attempted. If a caution comes out during that period, the race will be complete. This procedure will eliminate the need for a red flag in the final laps to immediately stop the race in an attempt to finish under green-flag conditions. The announcement expands the single attempt "green-white-checkered" format to all three of NASCAR's national series, beginning next week.(NASCAR PR), for the Truck Series, who have had this procedure since it started, in 48 races with a G-W-C, 6 times has the lead changed [12.5%](Speed Channel)(7-15-2004)
AND - Trucks Change too: Until now, the trucks have been allowed to run multiple green-flag restarts to determine a winner. That will end after the race at Gateway. Cup races will be allowed only one re-start, and NASCAR will enforce that rule in all three series. Thus, a finish under caution is possible if an accident occurs on the final two laps.(St Louis Post Dispatch)(7-17-2004)

Pit Road Rules: NASCAR will change its policies for speeding violations on pit road following confusion over an infraction for which eventual race-winner Sterling Marlin was never penalized a week ago at Las Vegas. NASCAR president Mike Helton announced the changes Sunday morning at the drivers' meeting prior to the MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The new rules go into effect next weekend at Darlington Raceway. The key change is that, under green-flag conditions, the penalty for speeding on the way onto pit road will now be the same as the penalty for speeding off the pit lane. The new penalty will be what NASCAR is calling a "pass through," meaning the offending car will have to come off the track and travel the length of pit road at its speed limit without stopping. Under the old rule, a car speeding on the way onto pit road during a green-flag stop was held for 15 seconds in its pit stall. A car speeding off pit road was brought back to its pit box for a stop-and-go penalty. During last week's UAW 400 at Las Vegas, NASCAR officials said Marlin was speeding as he came to his pit stall after being spun out in Turn 4. NASCAR's race control officials called for the 15-second penalty, but that message was not heard by the official working in Marlin's pit stall. Marlin left without serving a penalty and NASCAR decided not to enforce any further sanction, saying that bringing Marlin back to pit road would be too severe of a penalty. Since the usual penalty for speeding on the exit to pit lane was to bring a car back in for a stop-and-go, that raised the question of why the sanction for speeding on the way out should be more severe for speeding on the way in. The rule change announced Sunday addresses that issue. Helton admitted Sunday that not giving Marlin a penalty last week might not have been the right decision. Helton said the change was made to avoid the kind of confusion and miscommunication that happened at Las Vegas. Under the rule that goes into effect next week, a driver speeding on the way in and on the way out on the same pit stop will be brought back in for a stop-and-go penalty. A driver who exceeds the pit road speed limit as he serves the "pass through" penalty for speeding will also get a stop-and-go. The penalty for speeding in or out of a pit stop made under yellow-flag conditions will not change - the offending car will be sent to the end of the longest line of traffic for the restart.(ThatsRacin.com)(3-10-2002)
UPDATE: plus a nice breakdown at RacingOne:
The New Pit Road Rules

Speeding Entering Pit Road
Current Penalty: 15 seconds
New Penalty: Pass through at correct pit road speed.

Speeding Exiting Pit Road
Current Penalty: Stop and Go
New Penalty: Pass through at correct pit road speed

Entering and Exiting Pit Road
Current Penalty: 15 seconds after stop; brought back for stop and go
New Penalty: Stop and Go

Speeding on Pass Through
New Penalty: Stop and Go
Multiple Violations: NASCAR's Discretion.(3-11-2002)

Minimum Age Requirement: Effective for the 2002 season, NASCAR has implemented a minimum age requirement for all drivers, crew members and other participants in its top three series - Winston Cup, Grand National and Trucks - as well as its Touring series. NASCAR hasn't permitted anyone under 18 to participate in Winston Cup or the Winston West stock-car series since 1998, in part because of the series' sponsorship by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. At least one driver will lose his chance at participating in one of NASCAR's top series next season as a result of the new rule. Kyle Busch, 16-year-old brother of Winston Cup driver Kurt Busch, was scheduled to run a full season for Roush Racing in NASCAR's Truck series, but will not be allowed to compete. Roush officials said Thursday he would remain under contract, however.(That's Racin') AND Busch, a high school student from Las Vegas, scored one top-10 effort. However, with the new ruling in place beginning with next year, it looks like Busch will be driving Late Model. With Busch sidelined for at least two years, that opens up the seat for someone else. The team has said that they will fulfill all contractual obligations to Busch. No driver has been named to the #99 CTS seat(NASCAR.com)(12-13-2001)