NASCAR issues several rule updates for coming season

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NASCAR issued a bulletin Monday with updated rules for the coming season for Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series.

Among the updates:

  • Only drivers who are licensed and approved for competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be eligible to participate in a NASCAR-approved tire test.
  • The March 2-3 NASCAR tire test at Atlanta has been canceled. That was to have been held Monday and Tuesday after the Atlanta race and just before the Cup series begins its three-week West Coast swing. Teams that were to have taken part in that test: Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing.
  • NASCAR clarified that should a vehicle pit out of its assigned stall and the crew begins to remove the tire(s), the crew must reinstall the tire(s) before moving the car back into its assigned stall to avoid a penalty. This is for Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series.
  • Any crew member interfering with another crew’s pit stop, causing the other team to incur a penalty or not, may incur a penalty. This is for each of the three national series.
  • Additional crew member(s), assigned to servicing the car or not, who purposely assist from an adjacent pit box on the work service side of pit road may be counted toward the limit of seven crew members over the wall. This is for each of the three national series.
  • NASCAR clarified the refueling procedure. Refueling can begin once the car is stopped in its assigned pit stall. The fueler may continue to refuel the car as it departs and crosses the front line of the pit box provided any equipment used and/or the fueler do not cross over the front or the side line of the pit box. Also, fueling cans or any other equipment must not be tossed or thrown over the pit service wall at any time. This is for each of the three national series.
  • NASCAR lists violating the private team test ban as a P6 penalty for all three series.
  • NASCAR mandates that the switch for the driver-adjustable track bar motor in Cup be located on the dash panel with the other accessory switches on the steering wheel or on the left or right side of the seat or seat leg extensions.
  • NASCAR clarified that added ballast must be in block form using minimum five-pound blocks. NASCAR clarified that the added weight must be in blocks.

 

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.