The title sponsor isn’t the only thing that will be different in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this year.
Ahead of the 2017 season, NASCAR implemented a new race format, concussion protocol and Damaged Vehicle Policy, that should significantly impact the on-track spectacle. The new regulations not only could impact teams’ approaches to each race, but also the ways in which fans watch them.
Here is everything you need to know — and nothing you don’t — about the 2017 NASCAR rule changes:
Each race will now be comprised of three stages, with a competition caution after Stage 1 and Stage 2 to allow drivers to pit. The drivers running in the top 10 at the end of each stage will be awarded championship points, and the stage winner also will receive one playoff bonus point they can carry over from round-to-round. The top-10 drivers at the end of the race also get championship points, and the race winner gets five playoff bonus points.
If any driver damages their car such that it has to be brought into the garage or behind the pit wall, they now will be required to visit the infield care center to undergo evaluation. NASCAR will now utilize the SCAT-3 diagnostic tool that’s used by other sports organizations, such as FIFA, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee. Driver’s first will be evaluated using the SCAT-3 tool at the beginning of the season, and the scores they receive will be used as a baseline.
Damaged Vehicle Policy
Unlike in the past, teams no longer can repair damaged body parts mid-race, but rather they can repair only damaged sheet metal. There also will be a five-minute limit on repairs, starting when the car enters pit road. If the car can’t be fixed within the alotted five minutes, has to go into the garage or behind the pit wall, it won’t be allowed to return to the race. And if a car does return to the race, it must maintain a minimum speed throughout the race, otherwise it has to return to pit road.
Thumbnail photo via NASCAR