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Questions and answers about NASCAR’s new limits on crash repairs

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NASCAR revealed some rule changes Wednesday and the one that got the most attention was the new policy that limits what teams can do to repair their vehicles during a race.

Here is an explanation of the rule and answers to some questions about the policy.

Here is the new rule:

— Damaged vehicles that go to the garage will not be permitted to return to the race.

— Damaged vehicles that can be repaired on pit road will have a five-minute cumulative time limit (yellow line to yellow line).

Pit road repairs:

— Body repairs are limited to the removal or reattachment of original body parts with fasteners and tape.

— Rods/supports may be used to reinforce original panels

— New or previously unused body panels are prohibited

— Series directors will provide teams an advance list of items that are required for competition (e.g. rear bumper cover, tail extension, etc.)

— 15-second time penalty for speeding on pit road or missing the commitment line

— Mechanical failures can be rectified so long as they are not a result of an accident.

Q: OK, why is NASCAR doing this?

A: NASCAR stated that this is something it has looked at before. NASCAR noted circumstances where damaged cars returned to the track and got in the way of the leaders, or lost body parts and created a caution, or had an oil leak that caused a lengthy caution.

Q: So any car that goes back to the garage is done now?

A: Not exactly. Follow me. If a car is damaged in an accident and goes to the garage (either on its own or towed) it is done for the rest of the race. Simple as that. There are exceptions. NASCAR stated that if a team goes to the garage to replace a transmission or electrical issue — not the result of a crash — the team can make those repairs and return to the race.

Q: Fine, what is this five-minute rule about repairs on pit road?

A: NASCAR is limiting the amount of time a team can spend on repairs on pit road to five minutes. The clock begins once the car crosses the yellow line at the start of pit road. The timing ends when the car crosses the yellow line at the end of pit road.

Q: Why is there a time limit?

A: NASCAR is limiting repairs to prevent an escalation of time spent on pit road by teams, along with an escalation of people and equipment in the pit area.

Q: What if a team speeds on pit road to return to the track before the five-minute clock expires?

A: They will be assessed a 15-second penalty. A team also can receive a 15-second penalty if it does not cross the commitment line to enter pit road to fix crash damage. Once a vehicle reaches the minimum speed on the track, the clock is cleared. However, if the vehicle must return to pit road for more repairs before reaching minimum speed, the time for the stops is cumulative.

Q: Five minutes to fix a car, no problem. A team will just send over 12 or more crew members instead of the allowed six to work on the car.

A: Do so and you’re done. Any team that exceeds the rule on crew members over the wall to repair a car damaged by an accident will be out the rest of the race. Understand, that if a team has too many crew members over the wall during a regular pit stop (not related to a crash repair scenario), then the penalty of a pass-through under green or restarting at the tail end of the field under yellow remains.

Q: OK, so a team has to be careful about how many people are over the wall to fix the car, but they still can fix anything right?

A: No. Teams can’t replace body panels. Body repairs are limited to removing or reattaching original body parts with fasteners and tape. Teams also can use rods and supports to reinforce original panels. New or previously used body panels are prohibited to be used.

Q: What about repairing the nose of the car?

A: NASCAR states that teams can put wire and mesh over the nose to protect the radiator if there is a large hole but noses cannot be replaced.

Q: What if the rear bumper cover comes off, then what? Can you repair that on pit road?

A: NASCAR notes that if the car is damaged and doesn’t have a quarter panel to attach a rear bumper cover to, then the car is done for the race. Teams can straighten parts and pieces to put them back in their original position. NASCAR notes that no major repairs are allowed on pit road.

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NASCAR America: Dale Jr.’s aggressiveness at Sonoma pays off, will need it at Daytona

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Dale Earnhardt was very aggressive in his final Cup start at Sonoma Raceway, and while it may have resulted in his Lap 14 accident in Turn 11, it also helped produce his third top 10 of the year and his second in a row.

“I think being offensive is better than being passive on a road course, nothing wrong with that,” said NASCAR America analyst Max Papis, who also broke down what caused Earnhardt’s bizarre spin early in Sunday’s race that also involved Danica Patrick and Kyle Larson.

“You’ve got to commit, usually the pass has happened before you actually arrive at the corner,” Papis said. “He thought that was a good opportunity, (then) committed. ”

NASCAR America’s analysts also discussed Earnhardt’s upcoming start at Daytona, which likely will be his final Cup start there. The track may be his best shot to earn a win and a spot in the playoffs.

The analysts believe the aggressiveness that was on display at Sonoma will be necessary for Earnhardt to pull a win out at Daytona.

Earnhardt’s year got off to a rough start in the Daytona 500. He was leading the race when Kyle Busch lost a tire in Turn 3 on Lap 105, spun and collected Earnhardt, Matt Kenseth and Erik Jones.

Earnhardt was near the front at Talladega in May late in the race when he was forced to pit for a loose tire with less than 15 laps to go.

That leaves the 14-time most popular driver with just two more chances to win a restrictor-plate race, the format he’s earned 10 of his 26 Cup Series wins.

“They’ve got to find a way to give him a car where he can be aggressive Dale Jr.,” Jeff Burton said. “What makes him so good at Daytona and Talladega is that he doesn’t hesitate. He’s the guy setting the tempo, he’s the guy forcing the issue. … He can’t drive with caution, he can’t drive worried about if ‘is my car going to stick?’ He’s got to stick it in there and know it’s going to stick. He hasn’t had that the last several plate races.”

Watch the above video for the full discussion.

NASCAR’s preliminary entry lists for Daytona

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NASCAR returns to Daytona International Speedway this weekend with the Cup and Xfinity Series.

Cup teams will compete in the Coke Zero 400, which will air at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on NBC and the Xfinity Series holds the Coca-Colca Firecracker 250, which will air at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday on NBCSN.

Here are the entry lists for both races.

Cup – Coke Zero 400

Forty cars are entered into the 17th race of the Cup season. That would make it the sixth race this year to have the most possible cars in the field.

Darrell Wallace Jr. will be back in the No. 43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports. Brendan Gaughan will drive the No. 75 Chevrolet for Beard Motorsports.

Ryan Sieg will drive the No. 83 Toyota for BK Racing in his third start for the team.

Kurt Busch won the last trip to Daytona, leading only the last lap of the Daytona 500 after multiple leaders ran out of gas in the closing laps. Brad Keselowski won last year’s Coke Zero 400.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – Coca-Cola Firecracker 250

There are 43 cars on the preliminary entry list for this race, including four full-time Cup drivers. They are Ty Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Joey Logano.

There is no driver announced for the No. 93 Chevrolet owned by RSS racing.

Ryan Reed won the February Xfinity race at Daytona after being involved in two crashes and leading nine laps. Aric Almirola won last year’s July race after a caution on the last lap forced NASCAR to review video and loop data and determined him the winner over Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch can afford to lose interim crew chief for Daytona

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Kyle Busch may have yet another view in his ear this weekend when he races in the Coke Zero 400.

Interim crew chief Ben Beshore may be suspended for the race after two unsecured lug nuts were found on the No. 18 Toyota after the Sonoma race.

The possible loss of Beshore comes after Busch’s usual crew chief, Adam Stevens, was suspended four races for a wheel falling off Busch’s car following a pit stop at Dover.

Daytona will be the fourth race of that suspension. NASCAR America’s analysts discussed the impact of the possible suspension for Busch, who is still looking for his first win since July of last year.

“They’re not making mistakes, they’re just finding themselves in difficult positions,” Dale Jarrett said. “This is certainly another one of those, going to a race track Kyle Busch can win at. But who you have on that pit box means a lot as for performing all through a race.”

Said Jeff Burton, “The frustration level is mounting, obviously. Kyle Busch is expecting to win races. … I think if you’re going to lose your crew chief, this is probably the race you want to lose it for. Going to Daytona, you pretty much have a plan going there. The pit strategy will be interesting with the stages, but if I was going to a race track, this would be the race I’d feel most comfortable without my crew chief.”

Watch the above video for the full segment.

Eddie Pardue named crew chief for Jeffrey Earnhardt’s No. 33 car

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The Circle Sport/The Motorsports Group announced that Eddie Pardue is the new crew chief on its No. 33 Chevrolet effective immediately.

Pardue, who was the team’s head of engineering, will lead the effort on Jeffrey Earnhardt‘s car this weekend in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. This will be his first Cup race as a crew chief since 2008, when he led Greg Biffle in one race at Auto Club Speedway. He has three wins in 338 races as crew chief in the Xfinity Series dating back to 1998.

The former competition director for Red Horse Racing in the Camping World Truck Series, Pardue replaces Pay Tryson, who has been released from the team.

Tryson directed Boris Said at Sonoma Raceway, where he finished 29th. Earnhardt has been in the No. 33 in every other race. His best result in his first 15 starts was 26th in the Daytona 500.

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