NASCAR Officials To Get Tough On Cheaters

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, February 5 2019
NASCAR teams and drivers found to be cheating will face disqualification in 2019. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

NASCAR will accelerate its post-race inspection process for the 2019 season, with immediate disqualification facing vehicles and teams found guilty of fudging the rules.

Chief among announcements emanating from the sanctioning body’s headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla., was NASCAR’s plan to move its thorough post-race inspection to the racetrack immediately following each national series event. If a vehicle fails post-race inspection, it will be disqualified, resulting in a last-place finish and the loss of all benefits from the win/finish, as well as any stage points. All other vehicles would move up in the finishing order under this scenario.

NASCAR will inspect the first- and second-place vehicles, as well as a random vehicle, after each event. Previously, full post-race inspections took place at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C.

“Our industry understands the need to focus on what happens on the racetrack,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president of competition and racing development. “We cannot allow inspection and penalties to continue to be a prolonged storyline. Race vehicles are expected to adhere to the rule book from the opening of the garage to the checkered flag.”

The disqualification procedure will be implemented across all three NASCAR national series _ the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

NASCAR also unveiled several other competition and personnel updates for 2019:

_ O’Donnell announced the “Generation 7” car in the Cup Series is scheduled to make its debut for the 2021 season and will be designed to feature new technologies and elements that showcase future production vehicles.

“There is a great deal of interest from our current and potential manufacturer partners to make the cars look even more like they do on the street,” O’Donnell said. “This will be an exciting progression in our racing technology that began with the introduction of the 2019 rules package.”

_ The Truck Series will feature the “Triple Truck Challenge” this season, a bonus program that will take place at three consecutive races _ Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (June 7), Iowa Speedway in Newton (June 15) and Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., (June 22).

All drivers earning series points will be eligible, and drivers who win one of the three races will receive a $50,000 bonus. Winning two races will net a driver $150,000 total ($50,000 per race plus a $50,000 bonus), while winning all three races will result in a $500,000 total prize ($50,000 per race win, $50,000 bonus for winning twice, plus a $300,000 bonus for sweeping the Challenge races). Cup Series and Xfinity Series drivers will not eligible to compete in the three races of this program.

“What better place could there be to ask drivers to put it all on the line than at No Limits, Texas?” TMS President/GM Eddie Gossage said in reference to the annual Rattlesnake 400 night race. “To lay an extra $50,000 out there for these drivers to fight over further enhances what’s always the perfect opening event to our summer race weekend.”

_ NASCAR has implemented a model of series-specific inspectors. Each national series will have a dedicated team of officials who will specialize in inspections for their respective garages.

_ Qualifying procedures across all three national series remain the same for 2019, with the exception that the first round of “group qualifying” for short track and intermediate tracks will shorten to 10 minutes in length (previously 15) and breaks between sessions will be five minutes long (previously seven).

_National series driver participation guidelines remain mostly unchanged from 2018. Drivers with more than five years of full-time Cup Series experience are eligible for a maximum of seven Xfinity Series starts and five Truck Series starts. Drivers who elect to accumulate Cup Series points are not eligible to compete in any Dash 4 Cash or Triple Truck Challenge races, or the final eight races in either the Xfinity Series or the Truck Series.

In addition, drivers who earn points in the Xfinity Series are ineligible to compete in Triple Truck Challenge races and the Championship race for the Truck Series.

_ Ben Kennedy has been elevated to managing director of racing operations and international development. Kennedy previously served as general manager of the Truck Series. His new responsibilities will include initiatives aimed at growing the sport, including managing NASCAR’s growth on the international scene.

_ NASCAR has confirmed its assistant directors for each series _ Kip Childress (Monster Energy Cup Series), Seth Kramlich (Xfinity Series) and Jesse Dollevoet (Gander Outdoors Truck Series).

The 2019 season officially opens this weekend at Daytona International Speedway with a Sunday, Feb. 10, doubleheader _ Daytona 500 Busch Pole Award Qualifying (12:10 p.m., EST, on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona (3 p.m., EST, on FOX Sports 1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The 10 days of “Speedweeks” will culminate with the 61st running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2:30 p.m., EST (FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Twenty drivers are eligible to compete in the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, one half of the season-opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader.

On-track activity will begin at noon (EST) with Busch Pole Qualifying for the 61st annual Daytona 500. The Advance Auto Parts Clash _ a 75-lap, non-points race, will follow at 3 p.m. The race will be run in two segments, separated by a competition caution at Lap 25.

The Clash field is limited to drivers who were 2018 Busch Pole Award winners, former Clash event winners who competed fulltime in 2018, former Daytona 500 champions who competed fulltime in 2018, former Daytona 500 pole-winners who raced fulltime in 2018 and drivers who qualified for the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Eligible pole-winners from last season (listed alphabetically) include Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, reigning series champion Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Daniel Suarez and Martin Truex Jr.

Past Daytona 500 champions eligible to compete in the Clash are Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman, along with former Daytona 500 pole-winners Austin Dillon and Jimmie Johnson.

Playoff drivers from last season rounding out the field are Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, February 5 2019
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