NASCAR has announced new rules and updates ahead of the 2023 season. Let’s take a look at each of them and their impact.
On Tuesday, NASCAR revealed tweaks to the rule book ahead of the 2023 season which will apply to the Cup, XFINITY, and Craftsman Truck Series. Most notably, the use of stage breaks during road course races is ending. Rather, points will still be awarded at stage-ending laps, but the caution flag will not fly. This applies at all Cup Series road course race weekends, but not to standalone XFINITY and Truck Series road course races (such as Portland, Mid-Ohio, and Road America).
This comes after months of surveys and discussions with both NASCAR’s official Fan Council and those within the industry and following years of decline in the quality of racing on road courses. But that’s not all NASCAR announced.
No more “Hail Melon”
If a driver attempts a “Hail Melon” move like Ross Chastain did at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR will hit them with a time penalty (NASCAR didn’t give a number). This technically isn’t a rule change, but rather enforcing the matter under the already existing rule 10.5.2.6.A, which states:
“Safety is a top priority for NASCAR and NEM (NASCAR Event Management). Therefore, any violations deemed to compromise the safety of an Event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk to the safety of Competitors, Officials, spectators, or others are treated with the highest degree of seriousness. Safety violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.”
Lost Tire Rules
Going forward, if a tire breaks free on pit road, it results in either a pass-through penalty (if it happens under green) or restarting at the tail-end of the field (under yellow). Neither of these will result in the suspension of a crew member anymore. If it happens on-track, however, two crewmembers are suspended for two races (down from four) and the team’s driver loses two laps.
Wets on Ovals
NASCAR announced it is expanding the list of tracks where wet weather tires can be used to race in damp conditions. In addition to the road courses, if required, NASCAR will use them at the following tracks under one mile in length:
- The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway
- North Wilkesboro Speedway for All-Star weekend
- Phoenix Raceway
- Richmond Raceway
- The Milwaukee Mile
- Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park
You won’t see wets used, however, at either Bristol Motor Speedway or Dover Motor Speedway. This move comes after tests were conducted at Martinsville Speedway in the spring of 2021.
Additional Rule Updates
In addition to the aforementioned changes, several minor updates were announced as well:
- NASCAR dropped the top-30 rule for drivers to make the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs (or top-20 for XFINITY and Truck). Provided a driver attempts to qualify for every race or NASCAR grants them a waiver, they’re eligible to qualify for the playoffs, regardless of points position.
- The Choose Rule will now be used at superspeedway events (Atlanta, Daytona, and Talladega) and dirt races (Bristol). It won’t however, be used at road course races.
- NASCAR will increase the size of the restart zone by 50% (25% in each direction) for the first five races. It’ll assess after Atlanta whether or not to continue with it for the rest of the season.
- The Damaged Vehicle Policy (DVP) clock shrinks from 10 minutes to seven. Toe link repairs are allowed to happen on pit road.
- NASCAR updated its event procedure rules for vehicle interference with a pit crew’s stop.
*actually if the driver is between the box and pit entry and interferes with another team's pit stop, there could be a penalty.
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) January 31, 2023