The Sprint Cup Series will return to racing with a bunch of new rules and seemingly a new attitude as NASCAR reaches out to its fans.
President Mike Helton talked about NASCAR's new direction on SPEED's NASCAR Race Hub Monday night. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Q: What are some of the potential rule changes for the upcoming season?
A: We're discussing a lot of things back and forth getting ready for Daytona. The guys at the R&D (Research and Development) center have been in the wind tunnel since the end of the season looking at options for the Daytona event and from that, in the dialogue and the decisions we've already made and now are passing along to the competitors before we go public with it, it should offer up a whole lot of excitement in Daytona.
Q: Are the changes more for the fans in an effort to put on the best show?
A: A lot of things we do today are, within reason, for the fans. In 2009, when we instituted the double-file restarts, that was fan-driven. The earlier and consistent start times that we scheduled for 2010 was a reaction by the fans. A lot of things we pored through over the holidays to look at reconsidering or changing or modifying were based on fan comments. We've got a 12,000-member fan council inside NASCAR that Brian Moyer and his group talk to every week after a race is over.
Q: Since NASCAR doesn't make a lot of quick decisions, are some of the changes things that have been in the works for a while?
A: There's several factors. One, the R&D center in and of its own gives us the opportunity to collect information and research and analyze and 'doodle' things out in a fashion we've never been able to do in our history. You're right, we've never made a decision just for the sake of making a decision. The effort is to do it very correctly and do it right.
Q: Has the no-open testing policy worked?
A: I don't think it's had a negative impact on the racing on the racetrack because every team had to adhere to it. There's obviously some teams with less experienced drivers that would like to have more time on tracks that they actually race on to test.
Q: Will this week's tire test at the Texas Motor Speedway include the rear wing or the spoiler?
A: Well, the test in Texas was a scheduled Goodyear tire test and in as much as we're shooting to have the spoiler on the car by the time we get to Texas, then we're including the spoiler in the test out there. The biggest thing is for Goodyear to marry up the correct tire with this car and with this spoiler. There will be a lot of back and forth out there. It's also a good opportunity to continue the research on the final product with the spoiler.