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France confirms John Darby being promoted to a new role as head of all three NASCAR national tours...and France says drivers can 'police themselves' in 2010

  Brian France on the 2010 season: "We want to see more contact. This a contact sport."(Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   NASCAR CEO Brian France confirmed Thursday that Sprint Cup series director John Darby will be leaving his post as the top cop in the Cup garage and be promoted to a new position as managing director of competition, in charge of all three NASCAR national touring series, Cup, Nationwide and Truck, as well as the developmental East and West leagues.
    "I would be remiss if I didn't say thanks to John Darby," France said during the Charlotte Motor Speedway's stop at the NASCAR research and development center, just down the road from the track. "He's got what some call the toughest job in NASCAR. John will be transitioning to a new role here in the R&D center."
    France also confirmed that change will be order of the day for him and the men running the sport. France says he's personally met with every one of the Sprint Cup tour's drivers already this month: "Talking about one thing – that this a contact sport, and the best sport in the world, and what can we do to make it better.
   "We got very good input.
   "We're going to have our eyes on putting things back in the drivers' hands….and loosen things up. To make great racing better."
    NASCAR's Robin Pemberton said "John is being promoted to Managing Director of Competition. The touring series directors will report to John. There is probably no one better for this job; he's a perfect fit. And he'll be right down the hall from me.
    "John will continue his duties as Cup director until that position is filled."

    NASCAR's Robin Pemberton (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    "It's nice to hear they love me, because they don't always tell me that," Darby said with a laugh, about the drivers and crews.
    "'I'm not going away. I'll still be as deeply involved in NASCAR racing as I've always been – times four. I'm not closing out my career and walking away; if anything, it's growing and accelerating.
    "Nothing will visually change in the (Cup) garage; I'll be at all the races in 2010, doing all we normally do. If we can select a candidate, we'd like to train him this season and get him up and running, so when 2011 hits we'll be ready.
    "I'll be at the race track a lot. Because there is a big thing about building consistency in the garages of all three series that requires being there, and understanding all the problems.
   "The world is not going to turn upside down. I'll still deal with all the crew chiefs, and with the series directors one-on-one almost daily....to keep things going in a more consistent way.
    "I think it's great idea. I'm actually quite flattered to be advanced to this level. The conversations have been going on for a few months. The situation is NASCAR has quite a few projects going on, and not enough people to run them. We've got a brand new Nationwide car to get deployed. We've got fuel injection well under way and we need to someone to keep pushing it along."
    Pemberton also offered specifics on the changes ahead for NASCAR drivers:
    -- the restrictor plate for the Daytona and Talladega races will have four holes 63/64ths of inch in diameter, the largest air opening for those tracks since 1989;
   -- "bump-drafting as we've known it at Daytona and Talladega the past few years will be totally eliminated, our 'regulation' of it. 'Boys, have at it, and have a good time,'" Pemberton said.
   -- the yellow out-of-bounds rule at Daytona and Talladega will remain in effect "for the time being," Pemberton said. And he curtly dismissed Mark Martin's suggestion of no out-of-bounds on the last lap.
   -- Pemberton described the two days of testing this week at Texas Motor Speedway with the planned new 'old' flat-blade rear spoiler' as "very, very successful." There will be an open test for all competitors at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the new spoiler March 23rd and 24th.
      How does 'more contact' relate to safety?
   "If you ain't rubbin' you ain't racing….that's the old saying. And our goal is to deliver that correctly…and maintain law-and-order," NASCAR president Mike Helton said. "Safety is why we're very careful about what we're doing. We know this car is much safer than it was five or six years ago. And the tracks are safer too.
   "This sport is much safer today, and we're not going to let off that as a topic.
  "But we're also going to make sure we don't overregulate."
   And Helton said technical advances have been made in the past several weeks in roof spoilers that will keep the cars safely on the ground at faster speeds and at greater yaw angles than last season.
  And when will a new Sprint Cup director be named?
   "More important the timeline for getting a new Cup series director is finding the right man for the job," Darby said. "It's a lot of one-on-one. You're almost like
the mayor of the city. And that's who we need -- someone who can guide the garage and what the teams do."
  "The guy we pick has to be a guy who gets along with the majority of the guys in the garage," Pemberton said. "And he's got to make sure he fits in...and maintains a level playing field."
    Why a larger restrictor plate: "Some of the devices we've added to the car over the winter to increase stability also created more drag, so we decided to give the drivers more power," Pemberton said.
    And what does Darby expect with NASCAR's new push for more contact? "Racing will get a lot more exciting," he said wryly.
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  NASCAR's John Darby, being promoted, after eight years as Cup tour boss (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

What are the "roof spoilers"

What are the "roof spoilers" to which Helton is referring? Are these similar to the vertical blades that used to be on the roof of the old Cup cars?

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