NASCAR released the new rules package Tuesday, Sept. 23 for the 2015 season, that will ban all private testing, including the annual Daytona 500 test, and will impose the stiffest penalty possible on any team caught administering their own sessions.
Any team caught privately testing will receive a P6 penalty, the most severe penalty on NASCAR’s new punishment scale. It will carry a loss of 150 points, a minimum of $150,000 fine and a six-week suspension for the crew chief and other crew members participating in the test. Goodyear or NASCAR will conduct all testing session next season.
“It will be a huge penalty if anyone is caught,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice-president and chief racing development officer. O’Donnell said NASCAR believes teams will themselves, police the testing and report any organization that breaks the testing ban.
The three-day annual Daytona 500 test featured in January will be done away with, drivers will be used to promote the season on a cross-country promotional tour similar to the ‘Chase Across North America,’ NASCAR used the ‘Chase Across North America,’ used this month with its 16 Chase championship drivers assigned to visit various markets.
Another change is the reduction of engine horsepower through a tapered spacer (which is also used in the Nationwide Series) lower it from 900 to 725, with the reducing of the horsepower, on track speeds should be reduced anywhere from 5 mph to 7 mph, O’Donnell said this was aimed to create more passing through the field during the long green-flag runs. NASCAR will also implement a rear spoiler reduction of 1.25 inches from the current 7.25 inches in height to 6 inches.
“The combination of a lower horsepower package, and a new aero package, which takes about 300 counts of down-force off of the car, we believe will make for an even better racing product,” O’Donnell said. “I think where you will really see it is in the turns, where drivers need to come off the throttle more, and we believe that will be where we see more passing, in turns.”
O’Donnell added the goal was for more green-flag passes for the lead and said, “we believe that will happen with drivers potentially making errors in the corner, and that’s not just for the lead, but the entire field.”
NASCAR will implement the usage of rain tires in the Sprint Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International, mimicking the other NASCAR touring series of the Nationwide and the Camping World Truck Series, due to the positive feedback of the fans. Along with the tires used on the road courses will be mandatory wipers, a defogger and rear flashing rain lights installed for the race weekend at Sonoma and Watkins Glen.
“if it’s a complete downpour, obviously we can’t race. But Goodyear is able to build a tire for Cup, and we talked to the teams and they said, ‘Let’s do it,’” said O’Donnell. “They fans obviously love it.”
NASCAR will change qualifying for the Daytona 500, with the front row set through group qualifying similar to the qualifying used at other tracks. The remaining field will be set by the duel qualifying races later during Speedweeks. The qualifying for the Daytona 500 still needs to be worked out for the 3-hour window NASCAR needs to fill for television coverage, and it will be announced at a later date.
Not only will qualifying at Daytona be changed to represent the new style, formats will be shortened at all of the tracks, mainly to cut the length of time in the first segment. NASCAR will try to eliminate the waiting for the teams who sit on pit road while trying to time when to run a hot lap.
The first segment on short tracks and intermediate tracks will be 15 minutes, followed by a break, then 10 minutes, another break, and a final 5 minute session. At superspeedways, the field will be divided into two groups for the first 5 minute session, followed by two more 5 minutes sessions. On the qualifying for the road courses will be composed of one 25 minute session, followed by a 10 minute session.
Currently for tracks larger than 1.25 miles the first qualifying segment is 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break, followed by a second 10 minute round, with another 5 minute break, finishing with a 5 minute final 12 fastest drivers qualifying.
Tracks that are smaller than 1.25 miles currently have two segments for qualifying, with the first segment lasting 30 minutes, followed by a 10 minute break, the fastest 12 qualifiers for the final second round of qualifying lasting 10 minutes.