Opinion: New Changes Examined

2017 NASCAR Rules

NASCAR has recently added a number of new policies only days ahead of the 2017 season, including rules on repairing damaged vehicles. (Photo: Getty Images)

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NASCAR has recently added a number of new policies only days ahead of the 2017 season.

The sanctioning body outlined these new initiatives last week that will change the sport. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the bigger moves and their potential impact:

Repairing Body Damage
The days of seeing a car (or truck) on the track looking more like a modified while running multiple laps down are over. Teams now have five minutes to make repairs on pit road and if the work is not completed, their race is over. The rule does not apply to mechanical issues, which teams can still work on in the garage and return to action. But cars with the potential to be nothing more than rolling chicanes or causing safety issues spewing parts and pieces all over the track will no longer be allowed to "compete." It’s a smart decision that also cuts potential costs as organizations no longer need to travel with "crash carts" and additional personnel to make lengthy repairs.

Traveling Medical Personnel
NASCAR will have a dedicated medical staff that will travel the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and work in concert with at-track personnel. A traveling doctor and paramedic will now be at every race in addition to the professionals staffing the infield care center. It’s overdue and an idea the drivers have asked NASCAR to consider. Taking a page out of the NHRA and Indy Car Series, NASCAR has taken a strong step in ensuring that the safety and medical attention of the sport becomes stronger.

XFINITY Series Rule Changes
While much of the off-season focused on Cup Series rule changes and the removal of more downforce, NASCAR has done the same to the XFINITY Series. The 2017 rules package will see nearly 800 pounds of downforce removed from NXS cars, going from 2,800 to approximately 2,000. A smaller spoiler (from six inches down to 3.5) and smaller splitter will accomplish the goal with ride height also shrinking from five to four inches. The changes should make the cars harder to drive and put drivers back in control, as has been the case when similar rules were applied to the Cup Series.

One downside may be the new similarities between the top two divisions, which will give Cup regulars more of a feel of what to expect in their race should they participate in NXS races. However, NASCAR does have guidelines in place to limit full-time Cup drivers from participating in the No. 2 division this year.

Dash 4 Cash Program
The idea to incorporate heat races into last year’s four Dash 4 Cash NXS races was, in concept, a great idea that unfortunately did not produce the anticipated results. Because there wasn’t much on the line in the preliminary races except starting spots in the "main event," the heats were mostly single-file parades with little change for position. Now, with the new stage format being used across NASCAR’s three national series, this year’s Dash 4 Cash has adapted.

The two top-finishing series regulars in Stage 1 will join the two top-finishing regulars from Stage 2 to compete for the Dash 4 Cash bonus in the final stage, with the top finisher among the four claiming the $100,000 prize. Indianapolis was also eliminated from the quartet of races, replaced by Phoenix Raceway - which joins Bristol, Richmond and Dover in the program. The moves should spice up the proceedings and give NXS regulars a shot at more of the spotlight and some bonus money.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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