With the firing of the engines for practice today at Auto Club some of us are looking forward to next week already. Usually I don’t look ahead of the race weekend we are at how ever next weekend at Martinsville Speedway has been circled on a lot of calendars. For one reason in particular.
The new damage rules may prove to be a stumbling block for the normal bumping and banging short track racing we all love and are a custom to. As we have covered the damage rule changed this year. The added stress of the new rules package and stage racing could prove interesting next week.
We saw tempers over flow at Las Vegas between Joey Logano and Kyle Busch. this is not the only duo that has had issues more relevant may be that of last years spat between none other than Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth resulting in the suspension of Kenseth. Tempers usually flare at the short tracks because of the close racing and intense mental focus needed to run these races. Plus the close confines have always promoted the use of the once “chrome bumper.”
Statistically short tack racing has the highest DNF rate. The new rule I feel is going to raise this number. Last year at Martinsville there were sixteen cautions for a total of one hundred and twelve laps. In 2014 the number was lower with fourteen cautions for ninety two laps.
The new rules state that teams that are involved in the caution or receive damage are put on the five minute clock. During that time the teams are allowed to work on repairs however can not replace damaged panels they can only secure what is there. Once the teams make the needed repairs they can return to the track and see if they can reach minimum speed. Once the team reaches that the clock is reset and no longer in play unless involved in another incident. The teams after reaching the minimum speed can return to work on damage as much as they see fit how ever if the car is taken behind the wall for damage the car is automatically retired from the race, if for mechanical they can fix and return.
These rule adjustments are going to give us the possibility of a few things. First it could create a host of cars laps down or increase the number of DNF cars. Then you add the element of the stage racing and its added stress and strategy and you have the perfect boiling pot for tempers to boil over.
I am personally looking forward to seeing how the rules are going to effect the racing on short tracks. We have what appears to be the right recipe for a exciting race weekend with all of the factors involved. To play devils advocate for a minute, What if it works in the opposite way and we lose the bumping and banging we all love? By drivers laying back to get to the finish. What am I talking about they are racers that won’t happen will it? Sound off let us know your thoughts! I will be eagerly watching.
Credits NASCAR media Photo and Stats.