NASCAR announces 2018 rules package for Cup Series

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After multiple years of significant reduction in the downforce on cars in the Cup Series, NASCAR has announced less drastic changes for its 2018 rules package for the series.

Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR’s vice president of innovation and racing development, told NASCAR.com the goal of the package is to “hold things” and let teams “settle down” before making more changes for 2019. It will also help in the implementation of a new camera-based inspection process that will replace the grid, module and Laser Inspection Station parts of the current process.

Among the changes is the introduction of a common splitter and common radiator and oil cooler. The radiator and oil cooler rule was already in place this season for superspeedways.

“Some of the downforce will be removed from the car, so we will see a rearward shift in the balance of the car,” Stefanyshyn said, estimating a reduction of up to 120 pounds in downforce, for a total of 1,650 pounds of downforce.

Cars will have one rear gear for all tracks except for those that have been reconfigured or repaved.

Other aero/technical rules:

• Spoiler remains 2.375-inches tall by 61-inches wide.

• Net rear steer remains zero.

• Reduction of aerodynamic fans located at wheel corners.

• Front sub frame rules modified to reduce aerodynamic development.

At superspeedways, the ride height rule is being eliminated in a move to improve safety and competition. The rule will improve liftoff speed by about 30 mph. NASCAR is also doing away with mandatory rear shocks and springs. The restrictor plate size will remain at 7/8 of an inch.

Also in the safety realm, an Incident Data Recorder (IDR) powered by car batteries is being added to improve the quality of pre-crash data. Cars will also have a high speed in-car video camera to enhance the analytical capability of crashes. The camera will be located to the driver’s right in the cockpit.

“When we run vehicle power, (the IDR) will be looping and we will be able to catch the frames or the information pre-crash which is very, very important as opposed to at-crash start,” Stefanyshyn said. “We can actually go back in time and watch as that develops.”

Also in the package is the previously announced rule regarding teams having to run multiple engines in multiple races.

Cup teams will have to use 13 short block engines (engine block, crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rods and pistons) for two full race weekends each next season. The teams can choose what races those will be. The engines will be sealed between the points races to prevent tampering.

Backup cars must also unloaded without an engine installed.

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BRANDT returns for third year with JR Motorsports in Xfinity Series

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BRANDT Professional Agriculture will return as a sponsor for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Wednesday.

The company will be a primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier‘s No. 7 Chevrolet in 19 races and an associate sponsor of Allgaier and his three teammates the rest of the season.

Brandt has sponsored Allgaier for eight years, including the last three with JR Motorsports.

Allgaier is a native of Riverton, Illinois, which is 15 miles from Springfield, Illinois, where the company is headquartered.

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Allgaier, 31, is coming off his second season that ended with him in the Championship 4. He earned two wins, 10 top five and 17 top-10 finishes. He also led a series-high 495 laps among Xfinity regulars.

He will be teammates with Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick and Michael Annett this year.

The Xfinity season begins Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway.

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NASCAR revamps Rookie of the Year points system in national series

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NASCAR has changed how it determines the Rookie of the Year in all three national series, it announced Thursday.

The new system, which will debut in a month at Daytona International Speedway, reflects the points system that decides the champion in each series, including the stage format in races.

A race win will earn a rookie candidate 40 points and five playoff points. A second-place finish will is worth 35 points and a third-place finish is 34 points, etc.

A rookie candidate who wins a stage will earn 10 points and one playoff point.

“The focus on our rising stars has never been stronger and simplifying the Sunoco Rookie of the Year system made perfect sense,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations in a press release. “Our fans track closely the progress of our young drivers and matching the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points structure with the championship points will help them follow this prestigious program and award more closely than ever before.”

Erik Jones was Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series last year. William Byron won the honor in the Xfinity Series and Chase Briscoe won it in the Camping World Truck Series.

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Watkins Glen, Michigan announce multi-year sponsor deals

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Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway announced multi-year sponsorship deals for their Cup Series races Thursday.

WGI announced the Aug. 5 race at the road course will be sponsored by GoBowling.com. The 90-lap race will be called “Go Bowling at the Glen.”

This is not the first time the bowling brand has sponsored a Cup event. It sponsored the spring race at Kansas Speedway from 2016-17 and the August event at Pocono Raceway from 2013-14.

As part of the deal, Go Bowling will have two bowling lanes at the track for the race weekend.

Michigan has renewed its sponsorship deal with FireKeepers Casino Hotel for its June Cup race for “many years.”

The hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan, began its relationship with MIS by sponsoring pole day in 2014. It began sponsoring the June race in 2016.

TheFireKeepers Casino 400 is scheduled for June 10.

ISM Raceway (Phoenix) also announced the title sponsor for its March 11 Cup race.

The event will called the TicketGuardian 500.

TicketGuardian is a mobile ticketing insurance provider. When fans purchase tickets to events at ISM Raceway, they will be given the option to add TicketGuardian’s ticket protection coverage. This allows fans to have insurance on the tickets they’ve purchased in advance.

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Hendrick, Kelley Blue Book extend relationship through 2020

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Hendrick Motorsports and Kelley Blue Book have extended their sponsorship deal three years through 2020, the team announced Thursday.

The car pricing, research and valuation guide will be a primary sponsor on Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 Chevrolet in two races each year.

This season it will be on the No. 9 for the Aug. 18 race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the November playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kelley Blue Book has been partnered with Hendrick since 2014 when it had a one-race deal to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It went to a two-race deal beginning in 2016.

MORE: Driving the No. 9 feels like going home for Chase Elliott

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