2020 NASCAR rules will reduce Cup road crew members at track

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NASCAR announced Tuesday that it delivered the 2020 rules to Cup teams. Changes include a reduction in the number of Cup road crew members at the track and a limit on how much wind-tunnel testing Cup teams can do.

Cup teams are allowed up to 12 road crew members (crew chief, engineers, mechanics, shock specialist, tire specialist, spotter, etc.) per team this season but that number will drop to 10. The move is being done as a cost-cutting measure for teams. The five-member pit crew for each team is not a part of the 10-member road crew limit.

Also teams with three or more cars were allowed up to four roster spots in addition to the road crew limit. That changes to three next year, matching the maximum for teams with one or two cars.

NASCAR has never mandated how many hours of wind-tunnel testing teams can do but that will change next year. Teams will be allowed no more than 150 hours of wind-tunnel testing in the calendar year for 2020. Teams will be required to submit paperwork to NASCAR before such tests that will state how many hours they will be in the wind tunnel.

Wind tunnel tests will only be permitted at:

  • Aerodyn Wind Tunnel (full scale) in Mooresville, North Carolina
  • Auto Research Center (scale model) in Indianapolis
  • Penske Technology Group Wind Tunnel (scale model) in Mooresville, North Carolina
  • Windshear Wind Tunnel (full scale) in Concord, North Carolina

NASCAR stated that additional wind tunnel facilities may be added to the list of approved sites.

NASCAR also stated that wind-tunnel testing hours are not transferrable to other organizations. Attempts to do so will result in the hours being voided for all organizations involved.

Manufacturers are not permitted to perform any wind tunnel testing outside of 2021 Next Gen car development. There is no restriction of wind tunnel testing for the 2021 car for manufacturers.

Many of the rules will remain largely unchanged as the sport prepares for the significant changes set to come in 2021 with the expected arrival of the new car.

Among the noteworthy rules for 2020:

  • The current extended parts freeze will remain in place through 2020 with exceptions. The latest deadline submission date is Feb. 25, 2020 for centerlinks, track bar slider assemblies and truck trailing arm spacer/pinion angle shims.
  • Each car number will be permitted to have a maximum of 12 certified chassis at any given time. In addition, each organization will be permitted to have a maximum of 10 unique chassis designs.
  • Teams must compete in a minimum of eight events with a long block sealed engine and at least eight with a short block sealed engine (this year teams had to run three long block sealed engines and 12 short block sealed engines.)
  • Each team will be allowed three roster spots regardless of number of vehicles in the organization. In addition, a maximum of 10 road crew personnel will be allowed on each roster.
  • Organizations will be permitted a total of 150 wind tunnel testing hours per calendar year.

With the rule that teams will be allowed a maximum of 12 certified chassis, a team only will be permitted to retire and replace a chassis with a different one when:

  • The chassis has incurred damages during a race incident and the damage is determined by NASCAR to be significant enough to warrant replacement
  • The chassis has been used as the primary vehicle (meaning it has taken the green flag to start the race) at a minimum three events by the same organization during the 2020 season
  • The chassis has incurred damage due to a race incident but has exhausted its major repairs and cannot be updated to either its original or any of the remaining declared designs.

Greg Zipadelli to serve as Clint Bowyer’s interim crew chief

Greg Zipadelli
Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images
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Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, will serve as the crew chief for Clint Bowyer in Saturday’s Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, the team confirmed Monday.

Johnny Klausmeier will miss Saturday’s race, serving a one-race suspension because Bowyer’s car was found to have two lug nuts not safe and secure after last weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bowyer enters Saturday’s race at Michigan (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN) 14th on the playoff grid. The top 16 will advance to the playoffs. Six races remain in the regular season.

Klausmeier will be able to resume his role for Sunday’s Cup race (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) at Michigan.

Zipadelli, who won Cup titles in 2002 and 2005 with Tony Stewart, will reprise the interim role he played earlier in the season in the Xfinity Series.

Zipadelli served as Chase Briscoe‘s crew chief for four races after crew chief Richard Boswell, the team’s car chief and an engineer were each suspended four races because ballast fell out of his car. Briscoe won three of the four races with Zipadelli as his crew chief.

Team Penske extends contract with Brad Keselowski

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Team Penske announced Monday that New Hampshire winner Brad Keselowski has agreed to a contract extension. Keselowski’s contract was to expire after this season.

A media release from the team did not state the length of the extension for Keselowski, 36. The Associated Press reported that the deal was for one year through the 2021 season.

Keselowski, who won the 2012 Cup title, has been with Team Penske since 2010, winning 31 Cup and 33 Xfinity races during that time.

“We are pleased that Brad will continue to be a part of our organization,” said Roger Penske in a statement. “Brad not only demonstrates talent and skill on the track, but his leadership away from it and his dedication to our partners have had a huge impact in making our organization one of the best in NASCAR. I am proud that we will be able to able to keep the continuity we have with Brad, Ryan (Blaney) and Joey (Logano) and look forward to competing for more wins and championships together.”

MORE: Winners and losers from New Hampshire

Said Keselowski in a statement: I have been racing for Team Penske for the vast majority of my NASCAR career and to continue to represent Roger Penske, our partners and his organization is exactly where I want to be. We’ve accomplished a lot of things together over the years, including winning both the Cup and Xfinity Championships, the Brickyard 400, the Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Now, my goal is to win the Daytona 500, another championship and continue to build Team Penske into the best NASCAR team in the garage area.”

Logano is signed to at least 2022. In March, Blaney signed a multiyear extension with Team Penske.

Keselowski’s victory Sunday was his third of the season. He’s scored at least three wins in each of the past five seasons. Keselowski is second  in the points to Kevin Harvick.

GMS Racing, Brett Moffitt to honor Jimmie Johnson with special scheme

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GMS Racing and sponsor Plan B Sales have created a special paint scheme to honor seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson on championship weekend in November at Phoenix Raceway.

Brett Moffitt, the 2018 Truck Series champion, will pilot the the specially adorned truck at Phoenix.

“Brett has been a part of the Plan B family and a great ambassador for our company over the years,” said Brent Powell, owner of Plan B Sales in a statement. “Last year we partnered with Brett and GMS for the Phoenix race, but this year is different with it being the season finale and Jimmie’s final (full-time Cup) weekend. It truly is an honor for us to showcase this throwback for Jimmie and hopefully see Brett clinch his second championship in our truck.”

Said Moffitt of Johnson in a statement: “I have looked up to him, leaned on him and had the utmost respect for everything he has done for our sport. This is the coolest paint scheme I’ve had in my career because of how much respect and admiration I have for Jimmie. I’m rooting for him to go out on top, and maybe we’ll both get the chance to celebrate a championship in Phoenix later this year.”

Johnson has announced this will be his final full-time Cup season. He drove a Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar in a July 28 test on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Johnson has expressed a desire to race different vehicles after this season.

 

Cup playoff grid after New Hampshire

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William Byron holds a 15-point lead on rookie Tyler Reddick for the final playoff spot in the Cup playoff grid after last weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Six races remain in the regular season.

Byron finished 11th at New Hampshire, one spot behind Reddick, but Byron extended his advantage on Reddick by five points. Byron scored six stage points, while Reddick scored none.

MORE: Could New Hampshire be a sign of things to come in Cup?

MORE: Winners and losers from New Hampshire 

Jimmie Johnson fell to 25 points behind Byron for the final spot in the Cup playoff grid. Johnson overcame a spin after contact with Clint Bowyer to run in the top 10 but lost four spots in the final 20 laps to finish 12th.

“Good fight today guys,” Johnson told his team on the radio after the race. “Overcome a lot of (stuff) again.”

The series heads this weekend to Michigan International Speedway for two races. The Cup Series races there at 4 p.m. ET Saturday and at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. Both races will be on NBCSN.

Ten of the 16 playoff spots have been secured by drivers who have won at least one race this year: Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon and rookie Cole Custer.

Here is a look at the Cup playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Drivers shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Cup playoff grid.

 

Cup playoff grid New Hampshire