With the Sprint Cup Series completed and NASCAR season underway, drivers, crews and owners need to familiarize themselves with 2020 rule changes now in effect. Although there weren’t many major rule changes in the 2019/2020 season, there were a few new rules added.
A few changes are in place for drivers and pit crews; furthermore, NASCAR has implemented certain procedural rule changes which will implicate the financial aspect of the sport as well.
Active Chassis Changes
One of the first changes was designating a total of 16 chassis’ being allowed during a race. Teams are allowed to have 12 active and 4 inactive; teams are only allowed to maintain 12 “active” sets at any time during a race. Furthermore, each chassis has to be utilized in a minimum of three races, prior to being retired by a team. In previous seasons, NASCAR didn’t have any such limits in place.
NASCAR is also implementing a change to the total number of crew members that are allowed on the track during race day. Teams were previously allowed to maintain a total of 12 crew members on the track to include:
- Mechanics and an engineer
- Crew chiefs
- A tire specialist and spotter
The total number of crew members will decrease from 12 to 10 team members as the season progresses. These numbers might also be reduced as the NASCAR Cup Series moves on into the later stages of the season, although no determinations have been implemented or discussed beyond 2020 on restricting crew members on race day.
This cap also limits the total number of organizational staff (technical staff, competition managers, coordinators, etc.) to three members for teams that have two or more cars on the track. In previous years, teams were allowed to have up to four members from the organizational team on the track if they had more than one car racing.
Full Long- & Short-Block Sealed Engines
In 2020, teams are required to race in a minimum of eight events with a full-long block sealed engine. And, in order to qualify for the Sprint Cup Series Final, they must race in a minimum of eight events with a short-block sealed engine. In previous years, teams were only required to race in three long-block and 13 short-block engine races.
Wind Tunnel Testing
A crackdown on the total number of hours of wind tunnel testing a team can do is also being reduced for 2020. In previous seasons, there were no such restrictions in place. For 2020, teams are limited to a total of 150 hours of wind tunnel testing. Additionally, testing can only take place at one of the four wind tunnel facilities in North Carolina and Indiana.
Teams can’t conduct testing on current generation cars during the 2020 racing season either.
The extended parts freeze rule which was implemented in the 2019 racing season will remain in effect for the 2020 NASCAR Cup racing season as well.
A few additional changes that have been implemented which are worth noting include:
- Changes to the racing schedule
- Part sizes have been reduced for the 2020 season
- Improved technical angles for cars and drivers
In the 2021 season and beyond, NASCAR plans on implementing major updates; this is especially true given the fact that these 2020 tweaks are minor, and don’t really affect the manner in which most teams are racing. New body shapes will be introduced by manufacturers in 2021 to fit new chassis requirements. Front spoilers, skid skirts, and other upgrades are being presented to NASCAR at the present time, and bidding for implementing changes in cars for the upcoming racing season.
A majority of the changes that are taking effect for this racing season are procedural in nature. They aren’t intended to modify how drivers are racing on tracks, but more to affect testing and design implementations that were put into effect by teams in previous years. Furthermore, these changes are more meant to help reduce costs for team owners in development and costs for teams in general, as opposed to having a major impact on the outcome of races for the season.
The 2019 NASCAR season brought many changes and several changes are projected for 2021. It seems that 2020 will be a fairly routine season with crews, owners, and drivers, not having to conform to many changes on or off the track.