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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 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, celebrates after winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, celebrates after winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, April 24, 2015 for Saturday evening`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Harvick is the points leader in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, finishes in sixth place and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet SS, finishes in third place Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Wix Chevrolet SS, finishes in fifth place and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finishes in seventh place Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet SS, finishes in third place Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, leads the field in a restart during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, has an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing) and David Ragan (Joe Gibbs Racing) spin out during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Comcast Business Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet, races Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, leads the field to a restart during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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