NASCAR makes changes to pit stops for select Xfinity, Truck races

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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.

 

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Talladega Superspeedway

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After a messy Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move on this weekend to another potentially messy spot — Talladega Superspeedway.

Home to the Big One — an almost certain multi-car crash, Talladega also occasionally produces unexpected winners, including Richard Brickhouse, James Hylton, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard and Brad Keselowski.

The mix of tight drafting, the Next Gen car and general playoff tension should make Sunday’s 500-mile run quite the adventure.

On Sunday at Texas, Tyler Reddick became the second driver (after Chase Elliott) to score three wins this season.

Joey Logano enters Talladega with the playoff point lead.

Playoff rookies roll on

The four drivers participating in the Cup playoffs for the first time remain factors approaching the second race in the second round.

Ross Chastain is second in the standings, 18 points above the cutline entering Talladega.

MORE: NBC NASCAR rankings put Denny Hamlin first

Daniel Suarez, Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing teammate, is seventh. He’s four points above the cutline.

Two other playoff rookies — Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric — will start Talladega below the cutline. Briscoe is four points below the cutline. Cindric is 11 points below the cutline.

Looking for wins

Only six of the remaining 12 playoff drivers have won races at the two remaining tracks in the second round (Talladega and Charlotte Roval).

Among the six, Joey Logano has the best win record at Talladega, having finished first there in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Other Talladega winners in the group: Ryan Blaney (two), Denny Hamlin (two), Chase Elliott (one), Ross Chastain (one).

The Charlotte Roval is relatively new, of course, but Chase Elliott already owns two wins there. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson also have won at the Roval.

An opening for Brad?

Few people who watched it will forget the first Cup Series victory scored by Brad Keselowski.

It occurred at this week’s tour stop — Talladega Superspeedway — in April 2009. Keselowski and Carl Edwards made contact approaching the finish line and notched the win, even as Edwards’ car flew into the frontstretch fence, spraying car parts into the grandstands.

Thirteen years later, Keselowski returns to NASCAR’s biggest track having recorded six Talladega wins. No other active drive has more than three.

Keselowski’s refurbished team — Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing — has new fire with Chris Buescher winning at Bristol and Keselowski winning the pole and finishing eighth at Texas.

RFK Racing has led 309 laps in the past two races, more than the team had led in the prior 105 races combined.

Although he hasn’t won a Cup race since scoring a victory in a Team Penske Ford in April 2021 at Talladega, Keselowski must be considered a threat Sunday.

Entry lists

Thirty-seven drivers, including Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson and reigning Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric, are entered for Sunday’s Cup race.

Talladega Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are Trevor Bayne, Parker Kligerman, Timmy Hill and Jeffrey Earnhardt.

Talladega Xfinity entry list

Forty-one drivers are entered for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. Included are Kaz Grala, Ryan Preece, Natalie Decker, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Parker Kligerman.

Talladega Truck entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 30

Forecast: Partly cloudy. High of 77. (Weather note: There is the possibility that Hurricane Ian could impact the race weekend, depending on its path).

  • 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Forecast: Overcast with showers at times. Potential for heavy rainfall. High of 73. 60% chance of rain.

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Forecast: Sun in the morning, increasing clouds in the afternoon. Slight chance of a shower. High of 74.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

 

 

 

NASCAR fines Ty Gibbs $75,000 for pit road incident at Texas

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NASCAR fined Ty Gibbs $75,000 and docked him 25 points for door-slamming Ty Dillon on pit road during last weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Crew members from other teams were nearby when Gibbs hit Dillon’s car, causing it to swerve. No crew members or officials were hit.

NASCAR has made it a priority that drivers are not to cause contact that could injured crew members or officials on pit road. NASCAR also penalized Gibbs 25 Cup driver points and docked 23XI Racing 25 car owner points for the No. 23 Cup car that Gibbs drives.

NASCAR penalizes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

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NASCAR has docked William Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for spinning Denny Hamlin under caution in last weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Byron drops from third in the playoff standings to below the cutline heading into Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe moves up to hold the final transfer spot with 3,041 points. Austin Cindric is the first driver outside a transfer spot with 3,034 points. Byron is next at 3,033 points.

Hendrick Motorsports was docked 25 owner points as well.

Hendrick Motorsports stated it would appeal the penalty.

The caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash. As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

“I felt like he ran me out of race track off of (Turn) 2 and had really hard contact with the wall,” Byron said. “Felt like the toe link was definitely bent, luckily not fully broken. We were able to continue.

“A lot of times that kind of damage is going to ruin your race, especially that hard. I totally understand running somebody close and making a little bit of contact, but that was pretty massive.”

On the retaliatory hit, Byron said: “I didn’t mean to spin him out. That definitely wasn’t what I intended to do. I meant to bump him a little bit and show my displeasure and unfortunately, it happened the way it did. Obviously, when he was spinning out, I was like ‘I didn’t mean to do this,’ but I was definitely frustrated.”

Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gabehart argued and questioned NASCAR for not putting Hamlin back in second place — where he was before Byron hit him — and also questioned Byron not being penalized.

“I guess we can just wreck each other under caution,” Hamlin said after the race.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, told reporters after the race that series officials did not penalize Byron because they did not see the incident. 

“When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment,” Miller said. “The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing, we had no eyes on. We saw Denny go through the grass.

“By the time we got a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green.”

Kurt Busch ‘hopeful’ he can return from concussion this year

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kurt Busch said Tuesday he remains “hopeful” he will recover from a concussion in time to race again before the end of the NASCAR Cup season.

The 2004 Cup champion has been sidelined since he crashed July 23 during qualifying at Pocono Raceway. He’s so far missed 10 races – both Ty Gibbs and Bubba Wallace have driven the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing since Busch was injured – and withdrew his eligibility to participate in the playoffs.

“I’m doing good. Each week is better progress and I feel good and I don’t know when I will be back, but time has been the challenge. Father Time is the one in charge on this one,” Busch said.

There are six races remaining this season and 23XI co-owner Denny Hamlin said the team has contingency plans for Busch’s recovery and is not pressuring the 44-year-old to get back in the car. Busch is under contract at 23XI through next season with an option for 2024.

Hamlin said this past weekend at Texas that Busch has a doctor’s visit scheduled in early October that could reveal more about if Busch can return this season.

Busch has attended a variety of events to stimulate his recovery and enjoyed an evening at the rodeo over the weekend. But his visit to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday for its 10th annual honoring of Breast Cancer Awareness Month was Busch’s first official appearance as a NASCAR driver since his injury.

He attended for the second consecutive year as part of his “Window of Hope” program in which all the window nets on the Cup cars will be pink meshing in next week’s race on The Roval at Charlotte. Busch credited the Toyota Performance Center at TRD’s North Carolina headquarters for helping his recovery and getting him out to events again.

“I feel hopeful. I know I have more doctor visits and distance to go, and I keep pushing each week,” Busch said. “And TPC, Toyota Performance Center, has been a group of angels with the workouts and the vestibular workouts, different nutrition as well and different supplements and things to help everything rebalance with my vision, my hearing. Just my overall balance in general.”

He said his vision is nearly 20/20 in one eye, but his other eye has been lagging behind in recovery. Busch also said he wasn’t sure why he was injured in what appeared to be a routine backing of his car into the wall during a spin in qualifying.

NASCAR this year introduced its Next Gen car that was designed to cut costs and level the playing field, but the safety of the spec car has been under fire since Busch’s crash. Drivers have complained they feel the impact much more in crashes than they did in the old car, and a rash of blown tires and broken parts has plagued the first four races of the playoffs.

Busch said his concussion “is something I never knew would happen, as far as injury” and likened his health battle to that of the breast cancer survivors who aided him in painting the pit road walls at Charlotte pink for next week’s race.

“Each situation is different. It’s similar to a breast cancer survivor. Not every story is the same, not every injury is the same,” Busch said. “It’s not like a broken arm and then you get the cast taken off and can go bench press 300 pounds. It’s a process. I don’t know what journey I’m on, but I’m going to keep pushing.”