NASCAR unveils new damaged vehicle policy

CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR will no longer allow teams to replace body panels or parts and pieces following a crash.

The new policy will keep cars off the track that have the potential to create more cautions, with parts or pieces falling off, while running several laps down. It will also keep cars with potential integrity issues because of a crash off the track. In addition, it will keep crew members safe from scrambling around damaged edges of cars and going underneath cars amid the sparks of welders.

"The safety thing was a concern of ours," NASCAR senior vice president Scott Miller said. "There is a safety aspect to not only what goes back out on a race track. But actually the process that takes place in trying to repair those things in the garage is sometimes not a very safe situation."

As part of the policy, NASCAR, as previously announced, would award only one point for drivers who finish 36th through 40th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the Xfinity Series.

"We've seen a lot of energy going into major crash repairs, and it's something that we don't think enhances the show, and it's a little bit of a burden and a lot of energy being spent on something that doesn't really do anything for us collectively," Miller said.

If a car is involved in a crash, a team will have up to five minutes on pit road to repair the car. They are limited to the removal or reattachment of pieces with fasteners or tape plus additional rods or supports to reinforce original panels.

If a driver speeds onto pit road to try to get more time -- the five-minute clock begins once a driver crosses the yellow line that starts pit-road speed and ends at the yellow line on exit -- he would get a 15-second penalty. A driver must reach minimum speed before coming back down pit road for another five minutes for repairs.

Teams will be allowed to have a few crew members underneath the car on pit road but will not be allowed to have several working on the car.

Mechanical and electrical failures that are not part of an accident can be fixed in the garage. Damage from a blown tire would be considered crash damage, not mechanical.

The new policy will save teams the cost of bringing crash carts and additional body panels to the track as well as having to trash firesuits soaked with oil and burns.

In other news Wednesday, NASCAR announced the stages for the Daytona 500: The first two stages will be 60 laps, and the final stage will be 80 laps.