Truck Series Rules Changes Welcomed

Charlotte, NC (November 2, 2009) – Let’s give a big round of applause and a hearty ‘Welcome Back!’ to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. After over-reacting to the economic crisis at the start of the 2009 season with a number of rules that stunted the ultra-competitive division, NASCAR announced a rules reversal that will hopefully restore some sizzle to the series next season.

At the top of the list of 2010 Truck Series rules changes announced Friday are a return to ‘normal’ pit stops where teams will be allowed to change tires and add fuel on the same stop. This year, teams have had to make two stops per caution to achieve the same thing. Simply stated, the double-stop pit road merry go round didn’t really save teams money and totally disjointed the races. Frankly, it would have been better to bring back the ‘Half-Time Break’ the series originally used in its formative years from 1995-1998.

The new pit road rules, which also increase the over the wall count from five to six crew members, are a welcome change to anyone who is a fan of the series.

The second rule change that is bound to help the Truck Series in 2010 is a switch to double-file restarts. While the Cup and Nationwide divisions saw a huge infusion of competition and excitement with the implementation of the ‘shootout style’ restarts this season, the Trucks stubbornly hung on to the old formula that had the vehicles one or more laps down to the leader fill the inside lane.

That made the Truck races way more predictable to watch compared to its NASCAR premiere division cousins. Look for this rule change to not only bring the Trucks back on par with the other top NASCAR series, but also give the division a huge boost on the excitement meter.

Additional tweaks to the Truck Series in 2010 will include running no more than two consecutive races without using an engine previously sealed by NASCAR officials (excluding Daytona and Talladega.) The current rules allow teams to run no more than three consecutive races without using a sealed engine.

Meanwhile – buried deep in the NASCAR release – were plans to introducing a ‘Spec’ engine as an option for teams at tracks less than 1.25-miles in length next season. Other than stating the new engine would “help to reduce costs for current teams and encourage participation from the regional series,” no details about the engine were given.

This change will be interesting to follow. What will the engine be, who will build/provide them, how much will it cost, will it be a NASCAR ‘branded’ powerplant? Additionally, how will it impact current engine builders in the series such as Mark Smith’s Pro Motor group or Toyota’s TRD engine program?

Given the Trucks have always been a ‘testing ground’ for changes NASCAR might consider making in the Cup Series, could this new engine be a precursor to a more updated, less expensive engine in that division as well? There are a lot of questions to be answered here. Only time will tell.

Bottom line – it’s good to see NASCAR rescind rules that weren’t working, adapt rules to bring it on par with the other top divisions, and take a look to the future with new competition packages that will hopefully save the teams money and make the division more affordable/stable.

Talladega Truckin’

Saturday’s Truck race from Talladega had its usual blend of rough and tumble action and typical Talladega edge of your seat excitement.

A Talladega ‘Big One’ and a stunning dash to the finish by Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola had us shouting out loud. This was great stuff and if you missed it, you got knuckled.

In addition to the great on-track show, the over the top NCTS Set-Up on SPEEDTV was a total hoot as the broadcast team shed their inhibitions and dressed as the characters from the Batman comic/TV/movie vehicle.

Silly? Yes. Funny as hell? You bet. It was great to see something really creative and different for a change, but then you will get that when people are willing to step out of the box, take a few risks, and have a little fun in the process.

Kudos to SPEED Truck Series guru Keith D’Alessandro and the Truck Series on-camera personalities – Krista Voda, Ray Dunlap, Adam Alexander, Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip – for the laughs.

Ditto to MRN broadcaster Mike Bagley, who looked damn funny calling the action from his normal perch atop a tower at the track.

Last Call

We noticed this week that Fisker Automotive, a cool company with a great looking, great performing plug in electric/hybrid car, was in line to receive $359 million in federal loans to expand the project.

Not that this has anything to do with racing today, but the development of new technologies will eventually impact the motorsports communities. You can be sure that NASCAR and other motorsports sanctioning bodies are keeping a keen eye on this and other hybrid development projects.

It won’t be here anytime soon, but if the hybrid concept ever gets into high-volume production and it makes sense from a marketing standpoint, somebody somewhere will have a hybrid racing series.

It might sound farfetched, but then again, so did NASCAR Truck racing back in the early 1990’s.

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