NASCAR updates rules for finishing races after dark; elite driver tests on tap

Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Effectively in response to how the race weekend on the Streets of Chicago played out, NASCAR updated its rule book on Wednesday to have a procedure in place to complete races that are up against an impending unforeseen circumstance that makes reaching the scheduled finish untenable.

This is an update to Cup Series rule, which changes are denoted in strikethroughs and bold text, the ways in which NASCAR will communicate a new official race distance after the green flag has been taken:

A. If NASCAR determines in its sole discretion that unforeseen circumstances prevent the completion of the advertised distance or make it impractical to continue or complete the Race within a reasonable time after it has been stopped and provided the halfway distance has been reached or surpassed by the Race leader or following the completion of Stage 2, whichever occurs first, the Race will be considered officially completed as of the last lap completed by the Race leader prior to the Race halt. The finishing positions will be determined per the Double-File or Choose restart positions.

B. In the event the Race is declared official, NASCAR will revert to the single file running order and use all available resources to determine the official finishing positions, including but not limited to, pit road exit scoring data, undisputed video proof of a vehicle’s track position at the time of caution, in the judgement of NASCAR Timing & Scoring, the order of the last passed detection scoring data (scoring loop), and any associated penalties.

C. Due to unforeseen circumstances, NASCAR may determine that due to darkness it is impractical to complete the advertised Race distance. In this occurrence, NASCAR, in its sole discretion, will determine when the Race concludes and will communicate a predetermined time and display the white flag to the leader on the lap following the expiration of this time.

Instead of dictating a new final lap, as was the case in Chicago when the race was shortened 25 laps due to impending darkness, will now communicate what time on the clock the race will end – displaying the white flag to the field on the lap the clock strikes that minute.   

This would effectively place the race on a timer instead of NASCAR attempting to set a new lap number, which would not take into account cautions or other race stoppages as well.

NASCAR’s new testing regulations

shane van gisbergen
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Also, effectively a response to the race at Chicago where it was charged by rival teams that Shane van Gisbergen and Trackhouse Racing received a more robust testing opportunity compared to his fellow international one-off participant peers like a Jenson Button and those regulations have also been clarified.

This is Cup Series rule book section, and the changes are again denoted in strikeouts and bold text, where language have been added or removed.

A. The driver must be approved by NASCAR.

B. The driver must have elite credentials from the highest forms of motorsports in the world. As determined by NASCAR, drivers must have elite and influential credentials, demonstrated over multiple seasons from the highest forms of motorsports in the world, and meet a minimum of two of the following criteria:

  • Championship(s) in a major series (F1, Formula E, IndyCar, WEC, IMSA, DTM, NASCAR Cup, Supercars, WRC, MotoGP, Superbike)
  • Multiple wins and podium finishes in a major series
  • Major race wins (LeMans, Bathurst, Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500, Daytona 500, 24 Hours of Daytona, Baja 1000)
  • Significant media presence/following (racing star power).

C. The driver must be entered into a NASCAR Cup Series Event(s) by a current organization actively participating in NASCAR Cup Series Events.

D. Only drivers that are licensed and approved for Competition for the appropriate track type in the NASCAR Cup Series will be eligible to participate in a Select Driver Orientation Test.

The driver must not have previously tested or competed at a similar track type in a Next Gen vehicle.

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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