NASCAR tightens series eligibility, tweaks qualifying

Image by Michael Levitt/LAT

NASCAR tightens series eligibility, tweaks qualifying

NASCAR

NASCAR tightens series eligibility, tweaks qualifying

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In a pre-season rules briefing ahead of the 2019 season, NASCAR officials outlined a number of procedural changes, and laid out the timescale for the introduction of the next generation Cup Series car.

Alongside the change to at-track post-race inspection and the potential for disqualifications and a “Triple Truck Challenge” for the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, here are some of the other news items announced by NASCAR:

Gen7

NASCAR officials are aiming for the Gen7 race car to be on track in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series by the 2021 season. The Gen7 car is already in development and NASCAR says it has opened the door for new manufacturers to enter the sport.

“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,” said Steve O’Donnell, the executive vice president of competition and racing development. “This will be an exciting progression in our racing technology that began with the introduction of the 2019 rules package.”

NASCAR has an agreement with its OEMs (manufacturers) for its current engine to be used through the ’21 season. Meaning if a new engine was to be introduced, it would not occur until 2022.

Driver eligibility

Starting this year, Xfinity Series drivers are no longer able able to compete in the Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Drivers who have not declared for Truck Series points will also be ineligible to compete in the “Triple Truck Challenge” races at Texas, Iowa, and Gateway.

Unchanged for this season will be Cup Series drivers being ineligible to run in the “Dash 4 Cash” events in the Xfinity Series as well as the regular season finale and playoff events for both the Xfinity Series and the Truck Series. Also remaining unchanged is the policy a driver with more than five years of full-time Cup Series experience may only run seven Xfinity Series races and five Truck Series.

Inspectors

Each national series will have a series-specific set of inspections, who will specialize in inspections for their respective garages. There will be 12 officials for the Cup Series, 10 for the Xfinity Series and eight for the Truck Series.

Qualifying tweaks

The first round of qualifying for all three national series has been shortened from 15 minutes to 10. The second round (10 minutes) and third round (five minutes) of qualifying will remain unchanged. Additionally, the breaks between rounds have been cut from seven minutes to five.

Qualifying at the superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega) will remain two rounds of single-car runs. Road course qualifying will also remain two rounds of 25 minutes and 10 minutes.

Tow straps

Teams in all three national series will have the option of having tow straps on their vehicles. The use of tow straps will allow safety officials to pull a vehicle that has minor damage, out of sand traps or grass for the driver continue in the race.

Ben Kennedy steps up

The great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., Ben Kennedy, has been named the managing director of racing operations and international development. Kennedy, who served as the managing director of the Truck Series last year, will focus on projects across all three NASCAR national series as well as “managing NASCAR’s growth on the international scene.”

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