The NASCAR sanctioning body has announced some sweeping changes in their rule package for the 2015 season.
The move comes after one of the most competitive racing seasons in recent memory. If you had plans on attending NASCAR’s Pre-Season Thunder event at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) in order to take in testing by multiple teams then cancel your reservations unless you’re just going for the Rolex races.
NASCAR has decided to ban all private testing including the season opening event at their home base track. The move ends testing across the board except when it’s a sanctioned or Goodyear tire test. The pre-season Thunder event had quickly grown into a fan favourite. DIS president Joie Chitwood said he understands the position on testing.
“I understand NASCAR’s position in terms of testing,” Chitwood said. “We enjoyed it. But I understand as things continue to change, we’ll work with NASCAR on how to come up with some other unique promotional elements around the Daytona 500 and Speedweeks.”
Chitwood did point out that other racing is still going on during the January race weekend even though the NASCAR teams won't be taking to the track. The Roar Before The Rolex 24 test dates were still on the board. The three-day test for the IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge teams will continue as scheduled for Jan. 9-11.
Driver Point of View
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan said the move is one that will help with costs involved with testing for team owners. However; as a driver he really enjoyed getting back into the rhythm of racing during the January event.
“As a driver, I’m always eager to get back into the race car, especially in Daytona in January, and get back into the rhythm of going fast,” Ragan stated. “But for the team owners, eliminating the test is a good thing. It’s a cost-saving measure, and I can understand why NASCAR made that decision. There are no rule changes for the speedway cars, and I think that’s a good thing and I’m all for it.”
The only problem for NASCAR is that it killed a popular fan based event. And, NASCAR is based on getting fans to events? Those fans buy stuff and keep sponsors happy. Apparently the trade-off was not cost effective for the sanctioning body.
Other changes announced by NASCAR for the 2015 season include a very good decision to mandate rain tires, safety lights, and windshield wipers for Sprint Cup Series cars during road-course events. It’s a move already tested in the Nationwide (now Xfinity) and Camping World Series. The rules for qualifying have been tweaked but most of those changes were hinted upon during the course of the 2014 season.
On short and intermediate tracks, qualifying will have three rounds: 15 minutes, 10 minutes and five minutes, with short breaks between rounds. For superspeedways, the field of cars will be split into an “A” and “B” group. Each group receiving a pair of five-minute qualifying rounds, with breaks between rounds.
The Daytona 500 will also feature a group qualifying format as the single car qualifying at the track is eliminated. Road course qualifying will consist of two rounds: 25 minutes and 10 minutes, with a break between rounds.
The other major rule changes concerning the cars is headlined with the reduction of horsepower to 725 via tapered spacer. The cars can also now have an optional driver adjustable track bar, 38-inch wide radiator pan, and a 50-pound reduction in minimum vehicle weight from 3,300 to 3,250 pounds, not including the driver, via ballast reduction.