By Jerry Jordan, Editor
LOS ANGELES – Race fans who thought they might see a reenactment of the “Hail Melon” made infamous by Ross Chastain last year at Martinsville Speedway will be sorely disappointed now that new rules from NASCAR have the maneuver and any like it a violation of safety rules.
It may surprise some but Chastain said he is okay with the decision.
“I am excited that I don’t have to do it again, I mean, it was the longest wreck of my life. It was really successful,” Chastain told Kickin’ the Tires, while in Los Angeles for The Clash at the LA Coliseum. “But I have no desire to do that again. So, selfishly I’m glad I get to be the only one to go down in history that has ever successfully did it to where it really mattered and it really paid off.”
— Jerry Jordan (@JerryJordan_KTT) February 4, 2023
A violation of the rule will result in NASCAR issuing a time penalty after the race if the move occurs on the final lap like in Chastain’s situation.
But that isn’t the only change NASCAR made over the past week, there’s a wagonload of new rules that will impact the action on and off the track.
Teams will now have to place the car number on the front and rear bumper in addition to all other locations mandated by the sanctioning body.
To honor the 75th Anniversary of NASCAR, “The NASCAR 75th Anniversary logo must be a minimum of 4 inches tall x 5.6 inches wide and must be displayed under the Series logo.” This will be on the front fender below the NASCAR Cup Series logo.
There can be no markings, “On the OEM transparent portion of the quarter windows.”
NASCAR also added wording to its Membership Code of Conduct that gives it the leeway to penalize those for infractions not specifically listed in the rules but meet the definition of a code of conduct infractions.
- The Penalty Options and Guidelines are merely general examples of behavior that may fall into certain Penalty levels and are not limited to only the listed examples.
This means, that NASCAR can make decisions on the fly, so to speak, about whether actions violate the member code of conduct and what that punishment might be.
NASCAR also added new sections to the rulebook about having membership in the sport revoked. Physical confrontations will be dealt with more seriously than in the past, as well.
“Member-to-Member confrontation(s) with physical violence (e.g. striking another Competitor) and other violent manifestations such as significant threat(s) and/or abuse and/or endangerment.
- Multiple violations of the Code of Conduct.
- Selling NASCAR Single Event Credentials (VIP Passes, Essential Worker Passes, etc.).
Likewise, the sanctioning body is cracking down on drivers who purposefully damage another driver’s car on pit road. In other words, take care of it on the track.
“Intentionally damaging someone else’s vehicle on pit road has been moved from a low-level infraction of $25,000 to $50,000 to a penalty that could result in the loss of 25 to 50 driver and/or owner points and/or a fine of $50,000 to $100,000 or having the NASCAR membership revoked.”
NASCAR is also looking at using a muffler system to quieten the cars down, especially as it moves into racing at stadiums like the LA Memorial Coliseum for The Clash and the Chicago Street Course event. Early tests have shown the mufflers don’t impact the performance of the car but it does cause parts of the car to get somewhat hotter.
Other rules for 2023 include:
- Teams will be required to have wet weather tires for road courses and short tracks like the LA Memorial Coliseum, Richmond Speedway and Martinsville, among others.
- The “choose rule” will now be used at the Bristol Dirt Race and at Daytona and Talladega.
- Crew members will no longer be suspended for four races if a tire comes off a racecar. Instead, two team members will be suspended for two races if the wheel comes off during the race after it leaves pit road and the driver will sit for a two-lap penalty. If the wheel comes off under yellow on pit road, it will be a restart at the tail of the field and if it comes off under green on pit road the driver must serve a pass-through penalty.
- At road courses, NASCAR is also eliminating stage breaks in the Cup Series. Points will be awarded to the Top 10 drivers as has been done when the green-checkered flag fell for the stage break in the past. Racing will continue. That means there will be no Lucky Dog and there will no closed pit road before the end of a stage. For the Xfinity Series and the Craftsman Truck Series stage breaks will only occur when it is a standalone event at a road course.
- Cup Series drivers no longer are required to be in the Top 30 in points as a win gets them in the NASCAR Playoffs automatically. Xfinity and truck series drivers no longer need to be in the Top 20 to make the playoffs if they have a series win. Drivers still must attempt all races in their respective series to be eligible for the playoffs unless otherwise granted a waiver by NASCAR.
- Teams will be required to have new data equipment in their cars to allow NASCAR access to more data for officials. The data will include GPS information to help assess the speed of the car, especially in determining crash impacts.
While there may be a few other housekeeping rules, one of the rules that will directly affect drivers is the requirement to wear underwear.
Per NASCAR, all drivers must wear fire-retardant underclothes that covers every part of the body from the neck to the ankles and down their arms to their wrists.
Yes, that means Noah Gragson can no longer go commando.