NASCAR issues new rules for Next Gen cars to help stop fires

NASCAR is responding to the fires that have been occurring with NASCAR’s Next Gen car in the Cup series this season.

Cole Custer had a fire at Michigan, Chase Briscoe at Richmond, and Joey Logano and Chris Buescher had issues at the Indianapolis road course.

It all came to a head Sunday at Darlington Raceway when Kevin Harvick, who ran inside the top 10 for much of the race and seemed to be set for a decent finish, saw his race come to a flaming end on lap 277. Coming down the front stretch, Harvick’s Ford began showing flames out of the right side. Harvick slowed and soon flames were engulfing both sides of the car. He came to a stop and quickly exited the flaming machine. JJ Yeley in the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford also had a fire that ended his race early.

Naturally, Harvick wasn’t happy about ending his race early.

“I’m sure it’s just crappy parts on the race car like we’ve seen so many times,” he said. “They haven’t fixed anything.  It’s kind of like the safety stuff.  We just let it keep going and keep going.”

Harvick said he saw flames start a few laps prior.

“As it burned the flames started coming through the dash,” he said. “I ran a couple laps and then as the flame got bigger it started burning stuff up and I think right there you see all the brake fluid that was probably coming out the brakes and part of the brake line, but the fire was coming through the dash.

Rule book Update for Kansas (PDF)

“What a disaster for no reason.  We didn’t touch the wall.  We didn’t touch a car and here we are in the pits with a burned-up car, and we can’t finish the race during the playoffs because of crappy ass parts.”

NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said on SiriusXM radio that the fires were unacceptable.  Adding that they are working diligently to find solutions.

Wednesday NASCAR notified race teams of rule changes before this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway to address the fire issues.

The use of intumescent coatings is now permitted for the underside of the car’s lower crush panels, inside the exhaust cover panels and the upper surface of the rocker box. Teams will also be able to apply the coating to the right side stop panel. Intumescent coatings help provide fire protection to steel components.

Other changes for Kansas included mandating a lateral seal/dam to be installed between the back of the front clip weight box and the top of the splitter panel to help reduce the migration of tire debris from the splitter area. And there were also instructions on trimming of the back stop panel included in the rule’s changes.

It was also recommended that with exhaust installation, clearance between the exhaust and the floor of the rocker box be maximized.

A NASCAR spokesperson said these changes are a follow-up to the first step exhaust shroud update that was mandated for Richmond Raceway to address specific issues encountered at Indianapolis. Development will continue in this area, and further updates are possible as test results are evaluated.


Greg Engle