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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]
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet Chevrolet SS greets fans before the race Sunday, June 14, 2015. Busch won the rain shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by John M. Galloway for Chevy Racing)
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Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Air Titan 2.0 trucks work to dry the track during a rain delay at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Great Clips 250 Benefiting Paralyzed Veterans of America at Michigan International Speedway on June 13, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Great Clips 250 Benefiting Paralyzed Veterans of America at Michigan International Speedway on June 13, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, battles Brian Scott, driver of the #2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet during the Great Clips 250 benefiting Paralyzed Veterans of America. (Photo Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice.  (Photo Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice.  (Photo Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for the second position, Friday, June 12, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick will be joined on the front row by Pole winner Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, captures the Pole position, Friday, June 12, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kahne will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. Kahne is eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, captures the Pole position, Friday, June 12, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kahne will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. Kahne is eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, climbs into his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 6, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Roush Performance Products Ford, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Buckle Up 200 presented by Click It or Ticket at Dover International Speedway on May 30, 2015 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, lead the field into turn one during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

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