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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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Goodyear tire info for Talladega Superspeedway

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Goodyear will use the same tire setups this weekend in the Cup and Xfinity Series at Talladega Superspeedway.

While the left-side tire is unchanged from what’s been in use at the track since October 2014, the right-side tire will have a minor construction update.

“The amount of tire wear at Talladega has increased a good bit since the track was repaved back in 2010, and we especially see that on the inboard of the right-front (tire) where teams run a significant amount of camber” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing in a press release. “That led us to bring a more wear-resistant right-side tread compound starting in 2014. Having said that, we still see a lot of tire strategy come into play at Talladega, with teams still having the ability to take two tires or even fuel only depending on the situation.”

As on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Talladega. Air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.

Here’s the full tire info for the weekend.

Set limits: Cup: Two sets for practice, one set for qualifying and six sets for the race; Xfinity: four sets for the event

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4596; Right-side — D-4752

Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,233 mm (87.91 in.); Right-side — 2,247 mm (88.46 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 27 psi; Left Rear – 27 psi; Right Front — 50 psi; Right Rear — 48 psi

Social Roundup: Reaction to Matt Kenseth’s NASCAR return

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He’s back!

Five months after making what was thought to likely be his last Cup start, Matt Kenseth was announced Wednesday as returning in a part-time capacity with Roush Fenway Racing.

Here’s how social media reacted to the news that the 2003 Cup champion will share the No. 6 Ford with Trevor Bayne for the rest of the season.

Check back for more.

Matt Kenseth to drive No. 6 for Roush Fenway Racing

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Matt Kenseth is returning to NASCAR and coming back to his racing home.

Roush Fenway Racing announced Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame that the 46-year-old Kenseth will drive the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing in select races. His first race with the team will be Kansas on May 12.

“It feels like the right deal at the right time,’’ Kenseth said. “I think it’s an interesting challenge for me not just being a driver. I hope I can be much more to the organization. I hope there is a lot of different ways I can help in.’’

Said car owner Jack Roush: “We feel he has come home to us.’’

Kenseth will share the No. 6 ride with Trevor Bayne, who is running this weekend at Talladega.

“Our goal is to have Trevor continue to grow and mature on the track,’’ said Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing. “He will continue to be in the car.’’

Newmark said details are being worked out on what races Bayne and Kenseth will drive. Bayne has close ties to sponsor AdvoCare, which is on the car at Talladega. Kenseth will drive in the All-Star Race, Newmark confirmed.

Newmark said that when he told Bayne of the decision, Bayne said he wanted to remain in the car every week.

He’s a fierce competitor,“ Newmark said of Bayne’s reaction to being taken out of the car for some races. 

Roush said he hopes Kenseth can help the organization improve its performance.

“It’s a chance to look at our cars and see if there is something glaring that Matt sees with his experience,’’ Roush said.

Bayne is 26th in the points. The 2011 Daytona 500 winner has not finished better than 12th (Texas) this season. Every driver ahead of him in the points has had at least one top-10 finish this season. He has not finished in the top 10 in his last 12 starts, dating back to last season.

Kenseth said he had not talked to Bayne but hopes to do so in a few days and work together. Kenseth said he spoke to Stenhouse before the announcement.

Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion, has 39 career Cup wins, putting him 20th on the all-time wins list.

Car owner Jack Roush said that Kenseth will be a good mentor for the team’s young drivers, along with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.

He won the 2000 Cup Rookie of the Year award driving for Roush Fenway Racing and remained with the organization through the 2012 season. Kenseth won 24 races — including the 2009 and 2012 Daytona 500 — with the team before leaving to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing from 2013-17.

Roush Fenway Racing also announced that Wyndham Rewards/Wyndham Hotels will sponsor the No. 6 car in select races.

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NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto holds head high after 16th at Richmond

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Matt DiBenedetto joined Kyle Petty and Marty Snider at the Big Oak Table in NASCAR America’s Charlotte studio and relived his 16th-place finish in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.

“When we run 16th – with no attrition; we just flat out-raced Hendrick cars … RCR cars and Penske cars, the list goes on and on – we do that, we can hold our head high,” DiBenedetto said.

DiBenedetto was one of 23 drivers who finished on the lead lap last week, which meant he had to beat some big budget teams.

“If we’re going by budget and pure numbers, we stack up 32nd, -3rd, -4th,” DiBenedetto. “But we have really good people. We may not have a lot of people, but we have some really good people.

“We had a nice, smooth weekend and outraced a lot of people that in theory, if you’re going by budget, we definitely shouldn’t. It makes us proud because it makes other people, probably a little mad, as they see the 32 car going by, knowing that we run on a sixth of the budget of the guys we were driving by.”

DiBenedetto’s last three races have ended in finishes of 16th at Texas Motor Speedway, 21st at Bristol Motor Speedway and 16th at Richmond.

For more on DiBenedetto’s strong Richmond finish, watch the above video.