Reports: 2015 Sprint Cup rules package expected to be released on Tuesday

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It sounds like we won’t have to wait much longer before seeing what the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rules package will look like.

Lee Spencer of Motorsport.com reports that the sanctioning body will release the rules package to teams on Tuesday. Additionally, Fox Sports’ Bob Dillner reported during this morning’s pre-race coverage that the teams would be on a conference call on Tuesday with NASCAR to discuss the changes.

Spencer reports that garage chatter about the new package has centered around a two-inch reduction to the rear spoiler, a sizable decrease of 125 horsepower, and different gear rules.

However, Dillner also mentioned in his own report that teams believe a change in the tire compounds may occur.

Last month at Michigan International Speedway, 10 teams each ran through six different aero configurations. Power optimization was also focused on during the session; USA Today and NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan reported that teams tested horsepower configurations of 850, 800, and 750.

The goal of all of this remains the same for NASCAR: Create a package that can improve racing on the series’ bread-and-butter intermediate tracks. While the Generation-6 cars have certainly had their moments, it can be argued that passing remains a general issue.

Following the Michigan test, several drivers expressed their hope to get a configuration with less downforce. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in particular was a very vocal supporter of a configuration run during the test that cut the downforce levels by 30 percent.

But while a smaller rear spoiler would give the drivers less downforce, it sounds like NASCAR is set to follow through on a horsepower drop for the engines, which currently churn out around 850 to 900.

NASCAR CEO Brian France hinted in April that such a change was coming, and a few days after, the sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., expressed his belief that a drop was inevitable.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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