Motorsport.com’s Lee Spencer is reporting that Sprint Cup teams have been given a list of rules for the 2017 season. There are seven changes of note, the biggest of which involves downforce.
Under the new rules, if implemented, spoiler height will be cut from 3.5 inches to 2.375 inches, a decrease of just over 32 percent. The rules actually make the spoiler shorter than the spoiler height for the low-downforce races at Michigan and Kentucky by an eighth of an inch. However, the spoiler width will stay at 61 inches. For the low-downforce races, spoiler width was cut to 53 inches, a width that was typical in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. While it is not stated in the article, expect the height of the shark fin to be cut as well to match the new spoiler height. These rules would not apply to Daytona and Talladega.
NASCAR is also implementing changes to the rear end of cars for 2017. Changes to the main drive assembly, truck trailing arm crossmember assembly, track bar mount and truck trailing arm on rear suspension, the arm spacer and pinion angle shim. These moves are being undertaken to force cars to race in rules compliance for the entire event. There will be no more wagging the tail to move the rear end back into compliance.
A change to the testing policy will allow drivers returning from a medical absence an extra test session under the sanctioning body’s discretion. In order to gain permission to do this test, teams must request the special test directly to NASCAR and submit medical information from the driver’s doctor or doctors. Furthermore, if granted, the test will not give the returning driver any kind of a competitive advantage. While it is unclear what that will look like, it will likely involve all requests to test at tracks with upcoming races being declined within a certain number of days. That is nothing new in NASCAR since there were rules against testing at race venues within a certain number of days of the race back when NASCAR allowed private test sessions. If implemented, expect Hendrick Motorsports to take advantage of it to get Dale Earnhardt, Jr. some seat time before he returns to the No. 88 next season.
Daytona and Talladega will see a number of rule changes specific to those races. The roof hatch will be mandatory here, but still optional at other tracks. Currently, the roof hatch is optional everywhere. It is used rarely due to the fact that the hatch is rather heavy and throws the center of gravity of cars off. Certain drivers (mostly taller drivers) use them as often as they can, while others never do.
In addition, an energy-absorbent toe board will be added to the cars with a composite cover. This move would help to mitigate intrusion into the seating compartment and reduce the likelihood of injuries in crashes. Restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega will also be cut in size by 1/64th of an inch from 57/64ths to 7/8ths of an inch. Such a move would take away a few horsepower from Cup teams, leading to slower speeds.
Finally, NASCAR has approved “non-telematic devices to observe vital signs with internal battery power.” According to Spencer, this device cannot be connected to any electrical system in the case such as the batteries, the ECU (Electronic Control Unit), or the digital dash. Data acquired from these devices can only be downloaded after on-track sessions.
Expect an official announcement of any new rules for 2017 from NASCAR sometime in the near future.