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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]
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Denny Hamlin in action. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place with Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS who finished in 20th place Sunday, August 16, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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