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NASCAR boys told 'to have at it and have a good time'

Rules relaxed to hand power back to drivers ahead of season-opener at Daytona.
When the Sprint Cup Series Media Tour rolled into NASCAR's research-and-development centre Thursday afternoon, it quickly became clear that the sanctioning body had decided to take a giant step back from stringent regulation of competition.

The embargo against bump-drafting at restrictor-plate superspeedways won't be in effect when the Sprint Cup Series opens the season next month at Daytona International Speedway. Contrast that laissez-faire attitude with the stern admonition NASCAR president Mike Helton laid on the competitors in the Talladega drivers' meeting last November.

In addition, NASCAR will open the holes in the restrictor plate in use for the 14 February Daytona 500 to 63/64ths of an inch, the largest diameter since the 1989 Daytona 500.

The net effect is to give the Cup engines more power and the drivers more freedom to use it.

"We'll put it back in the hands of the drivers and we'll say, 'Boys, have at it and have a good time,'" Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said in announcing the changes.

NASCAR will, however, continue to enforce its prohibition against passing below the yellow line that separates the racing surface from the apron at Daytona and Talladega. In extensive discussions during the off-season, NASCAR found the consensus of drivers heavily in favour of keeping the yellow-line rule.

NASCAR also unveiled a version of the Cup car featuring a blade spoiler instead of the current rear wing. The spoiler will replace the wing after a full-field test at Charlotte Motor Speedway on 23-24 March, and NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said he hopes to have the spoiler in place before the 18 April race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Helton said racing had reached a point where NASCAR could back off some of its regulations without retreating on its commitment to safety. He pointed out that the new Cup car, introduced in 2007, as well as installation of SAFER barriers and heavy-duty fencing at racetracks, facilitated the changes NASCAR announced Thursday.

"We know today that this car is safer than five or six years ago - much safer," Helton said, "We are the last people on earth that want to over-regulate the sport, because it takes a lot to do that.

"But there's a lot of steps in regulating the sport that we have to take to ensure the safety and the correctness of the competition between the competitors and also balance the safety between the competitors and the race fans."




Related Pictures

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NASCAR vice-president of competition Robin Pemberton at the NASCAR Research and Development Center, Concord, North Carolina [pic credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images]
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, soc during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
David Ragan, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, drives in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, prepares to drive during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
David Ragan, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, signs the Coors Light Pole board after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, poses with the Pole Award after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualifies in second position Friday, February 27, 2015 for a front row position start in Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS qualifies in third position Friday, February 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #4 Energizer Chevrolet SS qualifies in sixth position Friday, February 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS qualifies in seventh position Friday, February 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Team XTREME Racing #44 entry - driven in the Daytona 500 by Reed Sorenson (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development, speaks to members of the media after a testing session at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 26, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/NASCAR via Getty Images)
David Ragan, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, stands in the garage during a testing session at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 26, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Clint Bowyer drives the #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota during a testing session at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 26, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, interim driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS finishes in sixteenth place in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finishes in fifth place, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finishes in 33rd place in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Gordon, who led for 87 laps,  was involved in a multi-car incident on the last lap. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)

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