In addition to approving the use of wet weather package for some oval tracks and the ban on the wall-riding maneuver used by Ross Chastain at Martinsville last fall, NASCAR’s other top change for 2023 involves stage breaks.
During a briefing with reporters at its research and development center in Concord, N.C., on Tuesday, NASCAR officials said they would end the artificial caution break at the conclusion of stages at all road course events in 2023 except for the standalone events (Portland and Road America in Xfinity, Trucks at Mid-Ohio).
Those events will keep stage breaks because they also have non-competitive pit stops in which the field pits together and positions cannot be gained or lost provided the stop is completed in a designated time.
In the races without breaks, points will still be awarded following the conclusion of the final lap in the stage but there will be no break in the racing.
Sawyer called the change “probably the most significant” of the 2023 season.
“After a lot of collaboration within the industry and with fans and teams, when we introduced stage breaks (several) years ago, we took an element of strategy away from the event,” he said.
“We felt that this would bring some new storylines, give folks something to talk about.”
Among other changes made for 2023:
– NASCAR has changed loss of wheel penalty. A loss of tire on pit road under caution will result in restarting from rear of the field. A loss of tire on pit road under green will result in a pass-thru penalty. A loss of tire beyond pit road or on the track surface will result in a two-lap penalty and two-race suspension for two crew members.
– NASCAR will remove the requirement that a driver must finish in the top 30 in points at the end of the regular season in the Cup Series and top 20 in Xfinity and Trucks to be eligible for the playoffs. Drivers are still required to start every race, unless granted a waiver by NASCAR.
– NASCAR has eliminated the ‘five-minute’ clock in qualifying (which allowed teams up to five minutes to take to the track for their attempt). Teams will now get up to one minute or after the next vehicle. Safety issues will be dealt with case-by-case.
– The “choose rule” – where drivers are allowed to choose which lane they will restart a race in – will now be in effect for superspeedway and dirt races.
– The area of the “restart zone” will extended. Further changes will be evaluated after the first five races of the season.
– The 2023 Xfinity “Dash4Cash” races will consist of April 2 at Richmond, April 15 at Martinsville, April 22 at Talladega and April 29 at Dover. The qualifying race is March 25 at Circuit of the Americas.
– The 2023 Truck Series’ “Triple Truck Challenge” will consist of May 26 at Charlotte, June 3 at Worldwide Technology Raceway and June 23 at Nashville.