NASCAR will still enforce the yellow line rule in Sprint Cup Series competition in 2010, but will not enforce a rule against bump drafting.
And according to NASCAR’s CEO, the sanctioning body will loosen the reins on the drivers.
“Over the past 10 years we’ve dramatically increased safety and that mission continues. However, it’s time for us to allow the drivers to drive. We don’t want the rules and regulations to get in the way of great racing and fantastic finishes,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “NASCAR is a contact sport – our history is based on banging fenders.”
Among the changes: Bump-drafting rules will be eliminated at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway. Teams also will use a bigger restrictor plate at Daytona. Eliminating bump-drafting rules puts responsibility for on-track moves squarely back in drivers’ hands. Larger restrictor plates give drivers more horsepower.
The yellow line rule, which was enforced at both Talladega and Daytona Superspeedways, prevented a driver from going below a yellow line to advance their position.
There was some talk prior to Thursday’s annual NASCAR press conference as part of the NASCAR Media Tour that the yellow line rule might be dropped, but NASCAR’s director of competition Robin Pemberton said the rule would remain in effect, for now.
The practice where a driver bumps the car ahead in order to gain speed had a great deal of oversight by NASCAR and controversy.
There was some speculation that the practice caused accidents and NASCAR began to enforce a ban on the practice by having ‘no bumping’ zones at Talladega and Daytona. In particular prior to last years race at Talladega, NASCAR said they would be enforcing the rule, especially in the corners. Some said that the race turned into a show of a long single file line of cars as most drivers wanted to avoid the wrath of NASCAR.
Thursday, however, Pemberton said the rule will no longer be enforced and NASCAR will let the driver’s race.
“Boys, have a good time,” Pemberton said.
When the Series begins the season at Daytona International Speedway with the Daytona 500 next month, the cars will have increased downforce and drag and thus will have a bigger restrictor plate size, 63/64, which is the largest plate used since the 1989 Daytona 500.
As for the problems of cars flipping at Talladega and Daytona, NASCAR president Mike Helton said that cars would have a ‘shark fin’ at Daytona to help keep cars on the ground.
Also significant: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby has been promoted to Managing Director of Competition, with oversight of all three national series’ directors, officials, inspection processes and race officiating. He will continue in his series director’s role until his successor is found.
“Probably no one is more qualified for this new job than John,” Pemberton said. “He knows and understands the officiating and inspection processes better than anyone and is the perfect fit.”