Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Unlike 2011, NASCAR will not make any major
alterations in its rules for the upcoming season.
Officials from the sanctioning body, including NASCAR chairman and chief
executive officer Brian France and president Mike Helton, held a press
conference Thursday to address the "state of the sport."
Last year, NASCAR revealed a host of format changes, including a revised
points system for all three of its national touring series, as well as a new
rule which prevented drivers from competing for a championship in more than
one of the three series. Other rule modifications included two "wild card"
positions for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format and a new
NASCAR made such drastic changes to help improve track attendance and
television ratings, which had both slumped in recent years.
"We're very pleased with how all those changes played out," France said during
his opening remarks.
The 2011 season in NASCAR's premier series -- now known as the Sprint Cup
Series -- featured the closest battle for the championship. Tony Stewart and
Carl Edwards ended the season in a points tie (2,403 each), but Stewart
captured his third title by virtue of his five wins -- all of them in the
Chase -- compared to only one for Edwards.
"The way to top that is to have three drivers or four going for the
championship if that's possible," France said in regards to the upcoming
One significant change for 2012 is the electronic fuel injection systems,
which are replacing carburetors in the Sprint Cup cars. Electronic fuel
injection has been a project that NASCAR has worked on with both McLaren
Electronic Systems and Freescale Semiconductor the last several years.
NASCAR also worked with Sprint Cup teams to test the technology this past
"We're pretty confident in what we've chosen; it's been tested pretty
carefully - that we will be in good shape," France said. "If we're not, if
there's some change, then we'll look at that. But we're pretty confident that
we've got the right package on that."
France mentioned the electronic fuel injection systems could be used in the
Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series in the future.
NASCAR is preparing for the debut of the new Sprint Cup cars next year.
Earlier this week, Ford unveiled its 2013 Fusion model. The other three
manufacturers -- Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota -- are expected to unveil their
models later this year. Private test sessions for the car are planned
throughout this season.
"I think the optics of the 2013 car will be very significantly recognized and
very popular, and the effort with NASCAR and all of the manufacturers
collectively working on this together, the four manufacturers in a room with
NASCAR and NASCAR saying we would like for you to help us design this race car
in a way that you would like it, that was a bit of a surprise to them, for us
to be that open with that process," Helton said.
NASCAR announced on Wednesday it is doing away with undisclosed fines. During
the past couple of seasons, Sprint Cup drivers Denny Hamlin, Juan Pablo
Montoya and Ryan Newman had been secretly fined for comments they made that
were considered detrimental to the sport. NASCAR's policy in not publicly
announcing fines had recently received criticism, mostly from fans.
"In terms of going public with it, we didn't have a real strong position on
that," France said. "We feel like that's something people think is a good
thing. We were happy to do it."
Officials further addressed the new rules package for restrictor-plate racing
this year, beginning with the February 26 season-opening Daytona 500. The
revised rules are intended to scale back on the two-car tandem style of racing
that has been featured at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway the past couple
NASCAR is banning driver-to-driver radio communications while they are on the
track for restrictor-plate races. However, team-to-team communications for
these events will remain allowable.
"I think we have some confidence that the tandem racing as we saw the '11
[season] conclude with won't be a part of the Daytona 500," Helton said.
"We're not going to write a rules package that prevents the drivers from
racing close to each other. That's NASCAR racing the fans expect. So we think
the Daytona 500 will be more in line with the fans expectations. You'll see
more than likely cars push each other, but that was happening in 1959 and
After Sprint Cup teams tested earlier this month at Daytona, NASCAR made some
modifications to the cars, particularly the restrictor plates and the front
grilles, for the Daytona 500 and other Speedweeks events.