NASCAR will implement new pit stop rules for select Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races in 2020, the sanctioning body revealed Tuesday.
The rules will be in place for most Xfinity and Truck races that do not compete with the Cup Series at the same track on the same weekend.
Here are the new rules for the select Xfinity and Truck races this season:
- The field is frozen when the caution is displayed. Stage breaks will have a full pit cycle (two opportunities to pit). For non-stage breaks there will be a full pit cycle (two opportunities to pit). There also could be an optional quickie yellow (one opportunity to pit).
- The team roster will consist of eight crew members at these events. The pit crew — four to service the car, one fueler and one driver assist — must come from among those eight team members on the roster. This is a way to help teams save money since they won’t need to pay for the services of a pit crew that is not a part of their team roster.
- The pit stop must be completed within a designated time period. That time will be determined later.
- On an oval track, teams may add fuel and change two tires per stop.
- On a road course, teams may add fuel or change four tires per stop.
NASCAR stated that the following penalties will be issued for violations:
- Cars will start at the tail end of the field if they exceed the time limit on pit road.
- If a car is involved in an incident, the team will be allowed to change four tires at once to avoid damaging the vehicle but will start at the tail end of the field.
- A car will start at the tail end if it pits other than on the designated lap.
NASCAR will issue two-lap penalties for the following violations:
- Change four tires and add fuel on any pit stop
- Change tires under green (unless approved by NASCAR for damage)
- Perform a four-tire stop on any pit stop (on oval track only)
For the restart, the field will line up:
- Vehicles that did not pit
- Vehicles that pitted one time, followed by vehicles that pitted two times
- Free pass vehicle, wave around vehicles and penalty vehicles.
As for the reason for the change in format at the select races, Eric Peterson, technical manager for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, said: “We believe this procedure will increase competition on track, incentivize different strategy plays to bring interesting storylines for the fans and bring efficiencies to teams that will help help strengthen the garage now and into the future.”
The new rules will be in place for Xfinity races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (May 30), Iowa Speedway (June 13 and Aug. 1) and Road America (Aug. 8). Truck races at Iowa Speedway (June 12), World Wide Technology Raceway (Aug. 21) and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Sept. 6) will use the new procedures.
The Truck race at Eldora Speedway (July 30) already has special rules regarding pit stops.
The exception for the Truck Series is the June 5 race at Texas Motor Speedway. That race will not have these special rules.
Peterson said NASCAR is using these races “as an avenue to test and try this out. … We wanted to dip our toe in the water and do a deliberate, strategic approach to implementing and getting a look at it. The reason why we selected the events we did was because they are standalone events. Any events for the Gander Truck Series and the Xfinity Series that are not with Cup presents some challenges from a logistical end from doing the pit stop. This is a way to alleviate the burden that teams have with performing pit stops at the races that are not companion events to the Cup Series.”
Peterson said the reasoning for limiting what teams can do on pit stops is to alter strategies and restarts.
“All the teams that consistently run in the top 10, our current pit stop strategy really did not mix the field up very well,” Peterson said. “It was an average position change of right around one position. That’s the reason we took this other approach. The purpose of coming down pit road and doing pit stops is to hopefully mix the field up a little bit where you don’t have a follow-the-leader race the entire race. What we currently have at all the other events does not mix that up very well. That was one of the reasons we are going this route with these standalone races.”
The first Iowa race last year saw Christopher Bell lead 186 of 250 laps to win. There were two lead changes in the last 190 laps of that race. Last year’s Truck race at Iowa saw Ross Chastain lead the final 141 laps to take the checkered flag before his victory was taken away when his truck failed post-race inspection.
Peterson said that while each race will still have three stages, the length of the stages will be altered to prevent the need for a green-flag pit stop. In 2019, the final stage was typically longer than a fuel run, forcing teams to stop. The final stage will be shortened for 2020.
Peterson said fans will play a role in determining if this system is used in more races.
“The primary driver of that will be fan interest and engagement and feedback we get from the fans, along with how we see the races play out and utilizing the metrics we have here for passing,” he said.
Peterson also said the focus remains on the Xfinity and Truck Series for these rules.
“Right now there are no plans for the Cup Series,” he said.
Wayne Auton, the Xfinity Series managing director, said Wednesday morning on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the designated time will be based on when a car enters pit road, crossing a yellow line, and when it exits pit road by crossing a yellow line.
Auton also addressed what would happen if a race on a road course started in dry conditions and then it rained, forcing teams to change to rain tires.
Auton said NASCAR would throw a caution and open pit road and declare the caution is for weather or track conditions. Teams then have the option to come down pit road and change to rain tires. At any time during the race, teams will be approved to come down pit road under green to change to slicks if the track dries. Auton said that teams will have a minimum time that they cannot beat — the time from when the car enters pit road road, performs its service and exits pit road — in those green-flag stops.