NASCAR delivered the 2014 Sprint Cup Series rules to race teams today, following what it termed “collaborative development” whereby it tested 30 Gen 6 cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway recently with mandatory debriefings required from the drivers. The first race using the new rules will be at Phoenix International Raceway in March. However, these rules will not be used for restrictor-plate races, including the 2014 Daytona 500 in February. That green flag has yet to drop.
NASCAR has a disjointed TV package split among networks with weak ratings, and a blue-collar fan base that remains severely hurt by the ongoing effects of the Great Recession and growing income inequality. This is leaving empty seats in its stands that the the trick paint can’t conceal. Worse, in the one area that NASCAR can control, the racing is hardly that. Competition is limited, passing difficult or rare, and cars strung out in long lines, and the scoring incomprehensible. Ho-hum.
The so-called Gen-6 car, introduced in 2013 is an effort by NASCAR, Toyota, Chevrolet Division of General Motors and Ford Motor Company to put the “stock” back in stock car, and provide “close, competitive racing.” The jury is still out.
Changes to the 2014 rules include statically setting the racecar ride height and eliminating the pre- and post-race front height rules and inspections. Additionally, 2014 rules include a square leading edge on the splitter, changes to the side skirt and rear fascia, and an eight-inch rear spoiler. Finally, a 43-inch by 13-inch radiator pan completes the changes for 2014.
“It was important to get the final pieces of the rules package to teams as quickly as possible following the final tests last week,” says Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development.