NASCAR has announced a series of update to policies and procedures for its Cup Series events this season.
In addition to the move away from automatic four-race suspensions for wheel nut penalties, the series has made safety changes made to the rear and center clips of the vehicle in response to injuries last season caused by the stiffness of the car in certain types of impacts.
Another change will be noticed this weekend at the L.A. Coliseum, as the cars will have mufflers on them. NASCAR tested the configuration last week at Phoenix, working to reduce the noise of the car for the overall fan experience and, notably, for those standing directly next to it in the garage.
NASCAR officials will continue to work on the muffler system so it can be used on short tracks and road courses. During the Phoenix test, officials found the addition of mufflers made the chassis and frame components of the car hotter than normal. However, it was not affecting the heat inside the race car on the driver.
Other notes, changes, or updates for 2023 include:
* There will be no stage breaks at the road courses except for the standalone events in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series (Portland; Mid-Ohio; Road America). NASCAR will not stop the race at the end of a stage or throw a flag to signify the end of a stage. However, points will still be awarded to the top 10 drivers.
* The pit road will not close with two laps to go since the race is not being stopped at the end of a stage.
* There will be no free passes given since the race is not stopping for a stage break.
* Free passes will, however, be given in the Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series standalone races, where they will have traditional stage breaks.
* NASCAR Cup Series cars will be outfitted with a brand-new data recorder system to give officials more data channels. It will include dedicated GPS data for the speed of the vehicle. All of the channels will be synced to help NASCAR during crash analysis.
* All drivers are now mandated to wear underclothing. It had previously not been required. Drivers will need to wear clothing from their neck to wrists to ankles that meet fire-retardant specifications.
* Wet-weather tires will be available at the following races: L.A. Coliseum, Indianapolis Raceway Park, Martinsville Speedway, Milwaukee, New Hampshire, North Wilkesboro, Phoenix, and Richmond. NASCAR officials expressed it will be a work in progress with using wet weather tires to cut down on rain delays.
* Each pit stall will be marked with an orange line near the outside right corner as a reference point for the drivers when pulling into their pit stall. NASCAR will be enforcing an already existing rule about vehicle interference with someone else’s pit stop. If there is contact between a vehicle and a pit crew member, expect a penalty.
* There will no longer be a requirement in the Cup Series that a driver needs to be inside the top 30 in points to receive a playoff waiver. However, drivers must continue to participate in every event. The same applies in the Craftsman Truck Series and Xfinity Series, where it was mandated that a driver had to be inside the top 20 in points.
* Based on driver feedback about competitors lagging back on restarts, the restart zone at the first five races will be extended by 50%. It will be extended 25% leading into the start/finish line and 25% past the start/finish line. NASCAR officials will further evaluate after the Atlanta race weekend.
* The choose rule will be in effect at superspeedway and dirt races.
* The damaged vehicle clock in the Cup Series will be seven minutes. It was previously six minutes and then extended to 10 minutes for the NASCAR playoffs.
* Officials referenced an already existing rule citing “violations deemed to compromise the safety of an event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk to the safety of competitors, officials, spectators” while revealing that moves like Ross Chastain’s ride along the Martinsville wall will not be allowed.
* Drivers will be issued a time penalty after the race.
* Cup Series driver participation eligibility in the Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series remains the same in 2023. They will not be allowed to compete in the regular season finale, playoff races, or specialty events such as the Triple Truck Challenge and Dash 4 Cash.
* The Triple Truck Challenge races will be in Charlotte, Gateway, and Nashville.
* The Dash 4 Cash will start with the qualifying event at Circuit of the Americas, and the races for the prize money are Richmond, Martinsville, Talladega, and Dover.