NASCAR Rules Changes 2023: Safe Car, Stage Breaks, and Penalties

NASCAR driver Chris Buescher (17)'s car begins to roll over after he and co-driver Daniel Suarez (99) crash after crossing the start/finish line during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday, May 29, 2022. Down the front stretch before coming to rest on a rooftop The Car.

NASCAR driver Chris Buescher (17)’s car begins to roll over after he and co-driver Daniel Suarez (99) crash after crossing the start/finish line during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday, May 29, 2022. Down the front stretch before coming to rest on a rooftop The Car.

In October 2022, Cup Series drivers met with NASCAR officials the Saturday before the Charlotte Roval race for a “tense” and “frank” discussion about safety issues in the next-generation car — and NASCAR came out of that meeting with The promise that changes to the car will be implemented before the 2023 season.

On Tuesday, NASCAR showed off its action.

Sanctions officials showed reporters a look at the new rear section, new rear bumper bodywork and new center section for the car that will be on track at Clash at Coliseum in Los Angeles this weekend.

The changes showed, at least in crash testing, that the 2023 parts were significantly less rigid than the 2022 parts—in both severe crashes and so-called “moderate” crashes, the types of crashes that drivers said had a significant impact on the car. Chauffeur.

“We started in late May, early June, looking at the car from a computer modeling standpoint,” John Patalak, NASCAR’s vice president of safety engineering, explained Tuesday at an annual information conference on NASCAR competition at the R&D Center.

“There are always challenges because a car has to be able to perform on a racetrack without bending things while not crashing,” Patalak continued. “And so you have to look at the wheel loads in Bristol and Dover, what happens to the suspension when you go over curbs on road courses, things like that. Collision – to make sure we don’t bend things the way they’re not supposed to be bent.”

The ultimate question for NASCAR, basically: How do we introduce deformations into the car during crashes—keeping drivers safe—but also ensure the car is efficiently durable?

“We went through lots and lots of iterations to make sure we not only did the kind of operational loads of the car—what you need to navigate the track without bending over—but then we also made the deformations that we needed,” Patalak said.

The safety of the next-generation car has been among the most pressing issues NASCAR has set out to rectify this post-summer 2022 offseason, which featured drivers and teams expressing their discontent with the car with unprecedented volume and vitriol. The criticism, in particular, came to a head after the September race at Texas Motor Speedway, where Alex Bowman suffered a concussion After turning the right rear of the car into the wall – the same type of hit Kurt Busch was injured in July which he sent in with a concussion as well.

“We’ve become very aggressive about making adjustments from last season to this one,” said John Probst, chief racing development officer. “It took a lot of energy and resources to make it happen.”

Among other changes in the next-generation car: the car will have a muffler for noise reduction purposes and will have cooling vents on the bonnets to regulate heat for the drivers in the car.

NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick is dragged into the garage after crashing heading into Turn 1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, October 10, 2021. Jeff Senner

Other NASCAR Amendments for 2023

Changes to the next-generation car weren’t the only tweaks NASCAR made ahead of the 2023 season. Here are a handful of others:

There will be no stage breaks in Cup track events in 2023However, teams will still score stage points based on the stage ending time on the selected lap. This means there will be no theatrical breaks at Circuit of the Americas (March 26), Sonoma (June 11), Stadium Chicago (July 2), Indianapolis Road Course (August 13), Watkins Glen (August 20) and Charlotte. Roval (October 8).

The damaged vehicle policy will be seven minutes in 2023. It has been increased from six to 10 for the 2022 playoff races. This allows the team to perform minor bodywork repairs on pit road, as well as toe-binding replacements, but no specialist tools are allowed in the pit stall.

No more watermelon chill. Without adding a new rule, NASCAR has deemed a move such as Ross Chastain’s last lap to pull the wall illegal in 2023 for safety reasons.

There is now an orange line of vehicle overlap on pit road. It will be used as a reference for the driver, and is intended to prevent cars from coming into the spaces of other cars on a congested pit road. NASCAR officials said if vehicles crossed the line and jammed, “it could result in a penalty.”

Being in the top 30 is no longer a requirement for playoff eligibility. This comes largely as a result of last season’s parity, where it was envisaged that a driver could win a race and still not be in the top 30 in points – a possibility that, if realized, “doesn’t seem right,” officials said.

Missing a wheel this year has slightly different consequences than in years past: If you lose one on pit road under the yellow, you start at the back; If you lose one on pit road under the green, it is a pass-through penalty; If you lose one off pit road, that’s a two-lap penalty and a two-race suspension for two crew members.

Some oval events will have “rain tires” for wet conditions. Those events: Clash at the Coliseum, Indianapolis Raceway Park, Martinsville, Milwaukee, New Hampshire, North Wilkesboro, Phoenix, and Richmond.

This story was originally published Jan 31, 2023 8:17 PM.

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Alex Zietlow writes about NASCAR, Charlotte FC, and the ways the sport intersects with life in the Charlotte area for The Observer, where he’s been a reporter since August 2022. Zietlow’s work has been recognized by the NC and SC Press Association, as well as an APSE, who awarded him a Top 10 Ranks in the Beat Writing and Short Feature categories of the 2021 Writing Competition. Previously wrote for The Herald in Rock Hill 2019-22.

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