NASCAR brings 'choose drone' to Bristol


NASCAR brings 'choose drone' to Bristol


NASCAR brings 'choose drone' to Bristol


As the choose rule comes to NASCAR dirt racing for the first time this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, so does a new way to signify the area for a driver to make their decision.

NASCAR officials are using a drone for both the Craftsman Truck Series and Cup Series events. The drone will hover above the frontstretch with an LED marker to let drivers know it’s time for them to choose either the inside or outside lane.

“I think you could very easily just put chalk out there and use that as the choose rule,” Christopher Bell said. “It’ll eventually go away whenever someone runs across it, but either way, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. You’ll either go high or low, and it shouldn’t really be that much of a factor.”

At other racetracks, a “V” is painted on the surface just past the start/finish line for drivers to either go inside or outside to make their choice. However, officials knew painting something on the racetrack wasn’t realistic, and they didn’t want anyone standing on the track during an event, either.

“I think we could have accomplished the same thing with a cone and rope, but hey, it’s whatever they want to do,” Ryan Blaney said with a laugh. “I have no say in the matter. And they did tell us it’s not going to be very strict – it’s just a reference point.

“You’re going to know if you’re bottom or top and commit. Honestly, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but like I said, you could have accomplished the same with a cone and a rope.”

Blaney was one of a a few drivers who mentioned NASCAR will be more lenient with the choose this weekend. If drivers run over the orange “V” during the choose at traditional racetracks, they are sent to the tail of the field.

“It’s going to be something funny to see,” Blaney said. “It’ll bright at night, so that’ll be good. You’ll get an idea of where it’s out. I don’t think we’ll see anyone get penalized unless you’re right in the middle. But they told us there will be some leeway. It’s not going to be like running over the orange box. There will be some slack and I think that’s good, especially at this place.”

Said Martin Truex Jr., “It should be fine. There is no box to run over to get penalized, so I think we’ve done the choose long enough we can figure it out.”

Jesse Little, NASCAR senior coordinator of competition operations, told that drivers have been told not to put NASCAR in a position where a call has to be made. Little also expressed that using the drone at other racetracks is not in NASCAR’s plans but will take any industry feedback under consideration.

Drivers didn’t seem too concerned over the change for one week. If anything, it’ll be more visible to the drivers than the “V” painted on the track, and it’ll be a unique addition to the race broadcast.

“I’m sure it’ll look cool on TV,” said Austin Cindric.

Fox Sports does have a camera on the drone.

“I think NASCAR does an amazing job of overcomplicating things,” Kyle Larson said. “I haven’t really seen it up close, just the Twitter picture or video. I race at dirt tracks, and we put a cone on the frontstretch, so I think that would have been plenty simple.”