JOLIET, Ill.–In the wake of controversy surrounding last Saturday’s Sprint Cup race at Richmond, NASCAR unveiled a “100-percent solution” to the issue of collusion and some specific practical changes to the conduct of races.
In a mandatory 17-minute meeting with drivers and crew chiefs Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway, NASCAR addressed the concerns that have caused what sanctioning body president Mike Helton earlier termed “a shift in the paradigm.”
“At the center of that meeting was what our expectations were going forward,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France told reporters in the Chicagoland media center. “And those expectations are that a driver and a team give 100 percent effort, their best effort, to complete a race and race as hard as they possibly can.”
That wasn’t universally the case at Richmond, after which Michael Waltrip Racing, Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing all were sanctioned for attempts to manipulate the outcome of the race to the benefit of specific drivers.
NASCAR told competitors Saturday that any future attempts of that nature will draw harsh reactions from the sanctioning body.
“First of all, the new rule that is effective immediately will be 12‑4L, if my memory serves me right,” Helton said. “It reads:
‘NASCAR requires its competitors to race at 100 percent of their ability with the goal of achieving their best possible finishing position in an event. Any competitor who takes action with the intent to artificially alter the finishing positions of the event or encourages, persuades or induces others to artificially alter the finishing position of the event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR.
‘Such penalties may include but are limited to disqualification and/or loss of finishing points and/or fines and/or loss of points and/or suspension and/or probation to any and all members of the teams, including any beneficiaries of the prohibited actions.
‘Artificially altered’ shall be defined as actions by any competitor that show or suggest that the competitor did not race at 100 percent of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the event at NASCAR’s sole discretion.’”
Helton then listed actions that are acceptable under the new rule and those that aren’t.
“This is the acceptable:” Helton said, “Contact while racing for position; performance issues; drafting; pitting; tire management; fuel management; yielding to a faster car; alternative pit strategy; long fuel strategy; laying over, (you lay over for one, you lay over for all, which is fairly common in our restart language when we get ready to go back to green).
“These are some of the examples that we came up with that’s unacceptable in hopes to help define the step we’re taking: Offering a position in exchange for favor or material benefit; offering material benefit in exchange for track position; directing a driver to give up a position to the benefit of another driver; intentionally causing a caution; causing a caution for the benefit of or determinant of another driver; intentionally wrecking a competitor; intentionally pitting, pulling into the garage to gain advantage for another competitor.”
In practical terms, only one spotter per team will be allowed on the spotters’ stand. Each spotter will be limited to two analog radios. Henceforth, spotters won’t be allowed to carry digital radios, which carry private team communications. Digital radios have been prohibited in race cars, but team members other than spotters and drivers may still use them.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton also said NASCAR would announce changes to restart rules, effective Sunday, at the drivers’ meeting before the GEICO 400.