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NASCAR's changes seem to be coming in waves

  NASCAR's Robin Pemberton, the veteran crew chief who worked with Richard Petty, Jack Roush and Roger Penske before joining NASCAR as competition boss, just hosted a media seminar, a project he's been pushing for a while...as part of the 'new' NASCAR? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   A kinder, gentler NASCAR?
   Well, we'll all see, as drivers and teams adjust to Brian France's declaration that 'this is a contact sport,' and he expects to see full-contact racing this season.
   But for the moment there are clear and unmistakable signs that something big is changing inside NASCAR's headquarters, in Daytona and Concord.
   A new attitude?
   The skeptical may want to wait a while to judge, but right now it sure seems NASCAR execs are taking a new approach to things...a lot of things.
   The reaction from those watching all this has been positive. Drivers and crews say they are very pleased to see NASCAR listening to them and planning changes.
   And just the other day NASCAR officials held a surprise seminar on rules for the media at the company's R&D center here, a lengthy seminar, with competition boss Robin Pemberton, Nationwide director Joe Balash, Truck tour director Wayne Auton, and training instructor Todd DeBusk.
   Among the new rules for 2010 is an excellent safety move -- the introduction of a new gas fill can, a closed system, which will eliminate the need for a gas-catch man standing directly behind the car -- a very dangerous position, where some crewmen have been seriously injured. The new can will first be used on the Truck tour, Auton said in order to work out any kinks before introducing it to Cup and Nationwide. The new cans cost about $1400, twice as much as current cans, but that also means one less over-the-wall crewman.
   Another change in the rulebook: NASCAR has codified its drug policies in a lengthy seven-page section, which lists some 100 specifically banned substances, and lays out the full procedure and drug testing system in detail. The changes come as the Jeremy Mayfield case winds through the courts. One of the criticisms of NASCAR's drug policies was that there was no specific list...in fact that the whole system of testing needed more clarity and openness. NASCAR has now provided that, it appears.
   An interest new point in the new rulebooks is that John Middlebrook, the noted General Motors executive and long-time racing aficionado, is now the 'court of last resort' for anyone appealing any NASCAR penalties. That role has been held by Bunkie Knudsen and Charles Strang in recent years. But the title has changed -- Middlebrook's role will be as 'national stock car racing chief appellate officer.'

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   Former GM executive John Middlebrook (L) shaking Richard Petty's hand, back when Pontiac was hot in NASCAR (Photo: General Motors)

The Lucky Dog....

Can anybody in NASCAR justify the LUCKY DOG move during a race when you have electronic scoring loops for positioning throughout a race?

It would be interesting to note who benefitted the most from the LUCKY DOG rule during the race, especially in 2009. That #48 team has benefitted much from it. Many races he was a lap or two laps down, but being in the "right" place "questionably" at the "right" time, he makes up a lap, just because the leader "lapped" him by a car length?

So, a driver gets to make up a whole lap because he was lapped by the leader? If that's the case, how about each time a caution comes up, anyone a lap down gets back on the lead lap. Anyone two-laps down, gets "promoted" to one-lap down....three-laps down to two-laps down and so on.

It would look good for t.v., but it ain't racin'....

I remember the whole racing incident at Loudon with Dale Jarrett's accident in the middle of track outta turn 4 and everybody's racing to the flag. Couldn't NASCAR just say NO racing to the flag on a caution and where you are positioned is where you are positioned. No freebies. Simple. With a schedule as long as NASCAR's CUP Series. What goes around, comes right back around to you.

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Yes, some very good points.

Yes, some very good points. Most drivers themselves don't like the lucky dog rule -- because the 'lucky' driver gets something he didn't earn. but nascar has justified the rule, basically, in the interest of entertainment. otherwise, it would be difficult to get a lap back. and, let's see, with this new 'shootout' style restart system, where would the lapped car have to be placed in order to have any legitimate chance at getting that lap back? hmmmm. i need to ponder that for a moment. can you help here?
At least NASCAR has stopped racing back to the yellow. that was a safety rule bobby allison long advocated. (though i still would like to know just a little bit more about how all these cars are 'frozen' in position at the instant of the yellow. if drivers weren't making so much money already guaranteed, maybe they'd be a little more vocal about checking on some things).

Of course I'm still trying to

Of course I'm still trying to figure out why nascar has to keep pit road 'closed' during the first laps of a yellow, in order to bunch the field for pit stops. that, to me, is a safety hazard, by putting all those cars on pit road at the same time, rather than somewhat spaced out.

YES To Ending Pit Closure Rule

That rule has been a failure since it debuted in March 1989, all because at Atlanta the pace car picked up Rusty Wallace, trapped Darrell Waltrip on the tail end of the lead lap, and Waltrip griped about it - it even became a somewhat lengthy issue during the ABC telecast of that race. Ending the pit closure rule will also allow elimination of pit speed limits, which weren't necessary in the days when cars could dive into the pits seperately and there was thus a lot more room to work with.

I disagree with not racing to the yellow - the safety argument gets back to the issue of who is getting punished for issues, the entire field or the specific driver responsible. The infamous NHIS incident in September 2003 should have been solely about punishing Michael Waltrip, not the field; if they had this deal in 1983 (the first time I can remember the rule being a controversy) the infamous Waltrip wreck at Daytona should have been about Lake Speed, not the rules - in that wreck Dick Brooks was leader and slowing down; Lake Speed in Hoss Ellington's Chevy chopped him off and Brooks slammed on his brakes as Waltrip cam up; Waltrip threw the car into a slide and clobbered the inside guard rail and bounced back to the groove in front of Cale Yarborough and Joe Ruttman.

NASCAR has so many racing loopholes....

And TV justifies it.

I intentionally studied the second half of the Colts/Jets AFC Football Championship game a couple of weeks ago and compared it with NASCAR's TV race coverage and you can immediately see the difference. When a penalty is called on a team, you see the flag. The call. The player(s) who created the penalty and the replay which caused the penalty.

Let there be a "phantom or debris" caution in a race. Many times there's no "visual" coverage to "prove" if it was such a "debris" on the track. And sometimes when they do such, the debris is usually outside the racing groove like on the apron, away from the racing groove. So, was it in the "act of safety" or for "show"? More than likely the latter. Hence the reason you didn't need the caution to start with.

There's nuthin' like watching a race LIVE AND IN PERSON. That's the sell! To watch 43 cars haulin' ass around a track 3x the speed limit with noise so loud you can't even think. Beatin', bangin' on each other for dear life. That's the hook!

With "Pro" Wrasslin'....You and they know it's fake, but you're always curious to know the outcome. But NASCAR, how is the world gonna take you serious by trying to BE the show and NOT showing the world how to race?

Having a former General

Having a former General Motors employee in a position of 'COURT OF LAST RESORT" is just another example on how the General Motors lobby and Nascars favoritism to them works!

They should be looking for someone who has no connections to the sport in this position!


They should come up with some kind of rule change at the bigger tracks that would allow some kind of racing back to the start finish line if the reason for the caution was behind the leaders and if they have plenty of time to slow down. The other thing is pit road should never be closed unless the caution is caused by something on pit road and I think the lucky dog should be eliminated or you can only use it once per race because if you are multiple laps down you should not be allowed to be given that much for nothing.

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