NASCAR rules and regulations
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The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) makes and enforces numerous rules and regulations that transcend all racing series.
NASCAR issues a different rule book for each racing series; however, rule books are published exclusively for NASCAR members and are not made available to the public. Still, many of the rules, such as the scoring system, have been widely publicized both by NASCAR and the media.
- 1 Car livery
- 2 Sponsorship
- 3 Special rules for combination races
- 4 Car and driver changes
- 5 Caution flag and restart procedure
- 6 Championship points system
- 7 Flags
- 8 Qualifying procedure
- 9 Penalties
- 10 Pit road
- 11 Race procedure
- 12 Safety
- 13 Testing
- 14 Weekend schedule
- 15 References
Each car is required to display its number on each door of the car, and on its roof. The front of the car and bottom of the rear bumper is required to match the decal specifications of the car manufacturer, and each car is required to display a series of around 30 NASCAR sponsor decals just to the left of each door and on the front fender. These contingency decals represent series sponsors and bonus money teams are eligible to earn during the race, but may be omitted in the event they conflict with the team's sponsors or moral beliefs. Except in the Sprint Cup Series, the series sponsor's logo is displayed on top of the windshield, called the windshield header or windshield banner.
Beginning in 2013, the livery layout for the Sprint Cup Series was altered, coinciding with the change to the Generation 6 model car. In lieu of the series sponsor like in lower series, the windshield prominently features the last name of the driver (as well as first name or first initial in the case of siblings and family members, or suffixes for drivers such as Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) placed in the center of the windshield header. Logos of the manufacturer are placed on each corner of the upper windshield. Number and sponsor logos were barred from being placed on the headlights and taillights, as not to obstruct each car model's unique characteristics. A new location for a single sponsor logo, however, was added to the rear of the roof adjacent to the number. In 2014, a new layout was created for participants in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, requiring the cars to feature yellow roof numbers, front splitters and front fascias. The background of the windshield header would also be colored yellow, with the driver's name displayed in black lettering. A new Chase for the Sprint Cup logo would replace the normal Sprint Cup Series logo in the contingency group. A decal would also be placed next to the driver's name above the door to signify each win a driver earned that season. For 2015, the liveries of the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series would feature the driver's last name on the upper rear window.
Outside of these requirements, teams may paint the car and place sponsor logos in NASCAR-approved locations, and must submit all paint and graphics schemes and all sponsor identity to NASCAR in advance for approval. One paint scheme requirement for example is that both the driver and passenger side of the car must share the same color pattern, though the front and rear may be different colors. This safety rule, to avoid confusion for spotters, NASCAR officials, and other drivers, was brought into light in October 2014 at Talladega, when Terry Labonte's Go FAS Racing team painted his #32 car in two different color schemes as a tribute to the two-time champion, but prior to NASCAR approval. NASCAR allowed the team to retain the scheme for knock-out qualifying, but forced them to match the two sides for the race.
Teams apply to NASCAR for the use of a car number. NASCAR legally owns and controls all rights to car numbers. When drivers change teams, the team owner usually retains the number. Unlike in other series, such as the former IROC Series, there is no provision for the defending series champion or the points leader to adopt car number 1; it is available to any team. Only one number, #61, in the Whelen Modified Tour, has been retired, in memory of nine-time series champion Richie Evans, who was killed at Martinsville Speedway practicing for the final race of the 1985 season. Other historically significant numbers have been ceremoniously retired, except with the permission of the driver or team owner. The number 3 for example, used by Dale Earnhardt and his car owner Richard Childress, has been unofficially retired for all teams and drivers except for an Earnhardt or Childress family member.
Teams can run numbers from 0 to 99 (as well as 00 to 09), but no two cars can display the same number during a race. Teams that run 00 to 09 are listed as 100 to 109 for NASCAR's scoring purposes. Except for those numbers (which have been used for full-time teams), part-time teams may be assigned a three-digit number for scoring purposes only (such as #141 and #241). If two such teams arrive with the same two digit number, the team higher in championship points prevails, and the other team will be forced to change their number for the race.
Although NASCAR has a long history of tobacco sponsorship, following the 2003 Season longtime NASCAR partner R. J. Reynolds declined to renew their Winston sponsorship of the Cup Series, replaced by Sprint NEXTEL. In June 2010, the Food and Drug Administration passed new regulations preventing sponsorship for cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products in any sporting event, including auto racing events. The announcement affected two teams: the 33 Truck of Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Kevin Harvick, Inc. lost its Longhorn Moist Snuff sponsorship, while the 27 Nationwide Series (now Xfinity Series) car of Baker Curb Racing lost its Red Man sponsorship. Baker Curb would shut its doors the next year due to lack of sponsorship.
In spite of the legislation, tobacco sponsorship continues in the sports through electronic cigarettes, with companies such as Green Smoke, Blu (owned by R.J. Reynolds), and Arrowhead sponsoring NASCAR teams. A brand of herbal smokeless tobacco, Smokey Mountain, has also sponsored drivers such as Hornaday, Johnny Sauter, and Brian Scott.
Though NASCAR typically promotes competition between multiple brands, including those that sponsor the sport and individual races, the sanctioning body provides exclusive protection to its series title sponsors, such as Sprint NEXTEL in the Cup Series, as well as current fuel supplier Sunoco. This policy, known as the Viceroy rule, prevents sponsorship from direct competitors within a certain series, although it does not prevent a company from moving to a different series within the sport, or advertising a product that does not directly conflict with the title sponsor. For example, Royal Dutch Shell, Texaco and other oil companies have been allowed to promote their motor oil brands (Pennzoil and Havoline respectively) but not their gasoline products. The rule is named after the British cigarette brand Viceroy, and is in reference to the 1972 USAC Championship Car season during which title sponsor Marlboro renounced its branding when Viceroy entered the sport to sponsor entries.
The rule has come into effect on several occasions, most notably when Nextel Communications signed a ten-year $700 million deal to replace Winston as the Cup Series sponsor. Active sponsors Cingular Wireless (sponsoring Richard Childress Racing's #31 team) and Alltel (sponsoring Team Penske's #12 car of Ryan Newman) were allowed to continue their deals, but both sponsor agreements were put into question when the companies were purchased and sought re-branding. In 2007 and 2008, NASCAR and AT&T Mobility (the successor to Cingular) filed suits against each other, with NASCAR seeking to kick all telecommunications companies out of the top series. AT&T was allowed to remain in the sport until 2008. Verizon meanwhile, after purchasing Alltel in 2008, moved its sponsorship to the Penske entries in the Xfinity Series and later the IndyCar Series, while the team ran a similar scheme in the Cup Series without Verizon branding. In a separate 2007 incident, Robby Gordon was allowed to retain his sponsorship from mobile phone manufacturer Motorola after adding logos referring to the company's "Digital Audio Players".
Special rules for combination races
A combination race is a race run between multiple series that operate under compatible rules packages. During NASCAR's combination races (currently the two K&N Pro Series (East and West) and the two Whelen Modified Tours (Modified and Southern Modified) run such events), where there is one race, but points are scored for both series, special rules apply as two teams will have the same number.
The fastest lap time in qualifying determines which team will have the number for the race, and which team must temporarily change the number for the race. For example, during the 1991 Busch Series season, there were selected races in the Northeast (Loudon, Nazareth, Dover, Oxford) where both the Busch Grand National (now Xfinity) and Busch Grand National North (now K&N Pro East) Series raced in combination races. North team Ricky Craven (also drove his car) and Grand National team Don Beverly Racing (Jimmy Hensley driving) both used #25. Whoever had the faster qualifying time in each race used #25. Craven used #28 at Oxford when Hensley had the faster time, while Hensley used #5 when Craven had the faster time at Loudon. Both teams, however, scored respective owner points for the #25 in their respective series.
Car and driver changes
Teams must use the car from the start of the first practice session through the end of the race. Teams that crash a car in practice or qualifying may go to a backup car, but racing a different car than qualified results in that car having to start at the rear of the field.
Engine and transmission changes are prohibited during a race weekend. Xfinity and Truck Series engines must last two race weekends, excluding restrictor plate races. Changing either will result in starting in the rear of the field. Transmission changes are allowed during road course weekends and during the race weekends at Pocono Raceway. In addition, during Speedweeks at Daytona teams are allowed one free engine change between the qualifying races and final practice session.
Driver changes are permitted, however starting the race with a different driver than whom qualified the car will result in the car starting at the rear of the field. Driver changes during the race are permitted as well, performed during pit stops, but a team must incur any loss in position due to time spent swapping drivers. The driver who starts the race earns all points, statistics, and purse money.
Caution flag and restart procedure
When the yellow flag is displayed and the yellow caution lights around the track come on, the field is frozen immediately at the moment of caution. All scoring ends immediately, and cars are to slow to pace car (safety car) speed. Cars will line up behind the pace car in the order of which they passed the last scoring loop on track (there are as many as 18 loops around the track, although the one at the start/finish line is the only one that counts for official race statistics). The exception to this rule is if the yellow flag waves after the white flag is thrown or if the race will not be restarted (typically for rain; but sometimes for darkness if a track does not have night lights), in which case NASCAR will use Instant Replay to determine the finishing order.
When the caution comes out, the pit lane is immediately closed, a rule first implemented following the 1989 Atlanta 500. Entering pit road when it is closed is a penalty of restarting at the end of the longest line.
During a "quickie yellow" all cars may enter pit road the first time by when it is opened. After the pit stops, the first car one lap down at the moment of caution (known as the free pass car) will get to go around the pace car and start the race at the end of the longest line, but back on the lead lap.
During a full yellow, only lead lap cars may pit the first time by the pit road. Once the lead lap cars who have decided to pit have entered pit road, the free pass car will be sent around the pace car to earn their lap back. The next time by, all cars (including the free pass car) may pit.
Cars may pit as often as they wish at the expense of track position, but the free pass car is limited to taking fuel only at the first pit stop opportunity. If the free pass car is judged to have caused the caution (intentionally or not) there will be no free pass car.
At the one to go signal, the pace car will turn its lights off. At this point, any car that is ahead of the leader of the race will be waved around to the rear of the field. These cars are not permitted to pit until after the green flag comes back out and the race has resumed. The field will then line up double file for the restart. The leader of the race gets lane choice, but the third place car (and odd positions on back) will always start on the inside line. The restart order is always this: Lead Lap Cars > Cars 1 or more laps down > Free Pass Car > Wave Arounds > Cars who have received a penalty. Once the pace car has pulled into the pits, there is a restart "box" consisting of lines painted on the outside wall of the track. The leader of the race is to begin accelerating during this box to resume the race. If they do not, the flagman controls the restart. The second place car may not be ahead of the leader at the moment of green flag, however either car on the front row may cross the Start/Finish line first. Passing is not permitted until the leader of the race crosses the start-finish line. Lane changes are also not permitted until after a car clears the finish line.
Championship points system
|Lead a lap||1|
|Most laps led||1|
For all series in NASCAR, there is both a drivers and an owners championship, with the system based on finishing position, equal in both championships. Since 2011 in National Series competition and 2012 in regional series competition, the points system has been a one point per position system, except between the winner and second place, where the difference is four points. In all series except the Whelen All-American Series, a driver who leads a lap during the race earns one bonus point. (The only place leading counts is the start/finish line.) The driver who leads to most laps earns an additional point. Also starting in 2011, drivers must declare which series they will earn championship points and cannot earn points in other series than the series they have declared. This rule does not apply for owners; their driver's finishing position (and bonus points) will score owner points, regardless of the driver being eligible for points in that series or not. If an ineligible driver wins the race, he does not score any driver points, but the owner will score 47 or 48 (if the driver lead the most laps)
In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, there are only 40 competitors, so the last place finisher will earn 4 points. Similarly in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series where there are only 32 competitors, the last place driver will earn 12 points.
Teams must submit an entry form to NASCAR 13 days prior to the event with the race's entry fee, or they will be ineligible for points.
Chase for the Sprint Cup
In the Sprint Cup Series, there is a playoff style championship format known as the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which is contended over the final 10 races of the season. Starting with the 2014 season, a new format known as the Chase Grid was used to determine the Sprint Cup Series champion.
The points leader at the end of the regular season will advance to the Chase, along with the top 15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races qualify for the Chase provided they finish in the top 30 in driver points and attempted to qualify for every race. A driver may be exempt if he has to miss qualifying because of injuries or is on family leave.
If there are fewer than 15 different race winners in the first 26 races, the remaining positions will go to winless drivers highest in points. All ties will be broken by drivers' point standings.
Drivers who qualify for the Chase will have their points reset to 2,000 points, along with three bonus points for every regular season win.
Advancement Model during the Chase
- The first three races of the Chase (27-29) will be known as the Challenger Round; races 30-32 will be known as the Contender Round; races 33-35 will be the Eliminator Round and race No. 36 will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship
- The number of championship drivers in contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship will decrease after every three Chase races, from 16 to start in the Chase Grid; 12 after Chase race No. 3; eight after Chase race No. 6; and four after Chase race No. 9
- A win by a championship-eligible driver in any Chase race automatically clinches the winning driver a spot in the next Chase round.
Four drivers will enter the 36th and final race of the season, the "NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship," currently at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Official finishing position alone will decide the champion. No bonus points will be awarded to championship-contending teams. Also, the winner, should he be a Championship Four driver, will score only 43 points for the win, not 47.
A driver and/or team not in the Championship Four who wins will score the full 47 points for the win and be eligible for bonus points, since final points will count towards season-ending bonus and ensuing season plan money, along with season-commencing provisional status.
Like most other sanctioning bodies, NASCAR will use flags to provide the drivers with information regarding track conditions. NASCAR, not adhering to the FIA rules (despite NASCAR being a member club of ACCUS, the U.S. motor racing sporting authority and representative to the FIA World Motor Sport Council), does not use the flag system outlined in the FIA International Sporting Code. Major differences include that in NASCAR (and other championships in North America) the white flag is used to signal that the leader is on the last lap, in FIA ISC regulated events (such as Formula One and most European championships) it is used to signal that a slower car is on track. Also, the blue flag specified in the FIA ISC does not have a diagonal stripe, and the black flag means that a driver is disqualified.
|The green flag indicates that the race has started or restarted. It is shown by the official in the flag stand when the leader enters the designated restart zone, which is located a short distance before the finish line.|
|The yellow flag or caution flag indicates a hazard on the track — most often an accident, but sometimes also for debris, light rain, emergency vehicles entering (usually on short tracks with no tunnel) or a scheduled competition yellow. All cars must slow down and follow the pace car. Passing is not allowed under the yellow flag. NASCAR does not use the "local yellow" flag; cautions apply to the entire circuit.|
|The red flag indicates that the race has been halted. This may happen due to a large accident, inclement weather, track repair (such as damaged catch fencing), or for severe track cleaning (such as the final laps, when NASCAR may clean the entire track to ensure the race can finish under green flag conditions, and to do so with the track clean of oil from engine failure or crashes). Cars may be ordered into the pits or on the track depending on conditions; red flags for inclement weather generally result in all cars parking in the pits. Race teams are not permitted to repair or adjust cars during red flag conditions. However, drivers may exit their cars, and they may be provided with water, food or other necessities.|
|The red flag with a yellow cross is shown to indicate pit road is closed. This will be shown at the entrance of pit road when the yellow flag is displayed. When all the cars have gathered behind the pace car, pit road will open and this flag will be withdrawn. A red and green strobe light system is also used at the entrance and exit of pit road. Cars may still enter the pits while this flag is displayed, but they must drop behind all other cars which wait for the pits to open, and the drop must occur while still under the existing caution. This is a frequent choice for cars with damage or flat tires, or in any situation where the loss in position is favored over the risk of remaining on the track and possibly not being able to return to the pits.|
|The white flag indicates one lap remaining in the race. More specifically, it indicates that all drivers will be scored for at most 1 more lap after passing the white flag.|
|The checkered flag indicates that a race or qualifying is over.|
|The black flag indicates that a driver must pit immediately. This flag is shown if the driver or pit crew violates a rule (e.g., speeding through the pits), if the vehicle has sufficient mechanical damage that it is a hazard to other drivers, if the vehicle cannot maintain the minimum required speed (varies by track; typically disclosed in the pre-race drivers' meeting), or if a driver has been driving overly aggressively. In the event of a failure of the in-car radio, NASCAR will, at the team's request, display the black flag to signal a driver to pit, one time only.
A black flag shown with a red flag indicates the conclusion of a practice session.
|The black flag with a white cross indicates a driver is no longer being scored. This is normally shown if a driver does not respond to a black flag within three laps.|
|The blue flag with a yellow stripe is shown to warn slow drivers of faster cars approaching. NASCAR rarely black-flags drivers for not obeying this flag; however, it is frequently displayed and warnings may be given if it is blatant (such as a lapped driver blocking for a teammate). NASCAR uses the yellow diagonal stripe on the blue flag because the flag is usually displayed on top of the starter's stand, and not at eye-level to the driver from the track.|
|The blue flag is used to indicate an area on a road course where drivers should be careful due to slow or stopped cars or a partially blocked track. It is not used on ovals. If a full-course caution is required, NASCAR will use the yellow flag to indicate this. Unlike the local caution commonly used in other racing series, the blue flag is not a "local caution" and does not prohibit overtaking; rather, it merely tells drivers to be careful. Safety workers will not leave their designated spots and enter the track under this flag. In the wake of a fatal corner worker crash at Daytona International Speedway in 2004 in a non-NASCAR sanctioned (but using track workers) race, NASCAR has become reluctant in recent years to use local cautions, opting to use the full-course yellow caution flag instead if any safety team members have to approach the track in an attempt to give safety workers a safer environment to inspect debris by forcing all cars under pace car speed, instead of race speed, to remove debris. The rationale is most of the field will be packed together while cleanup is happening, instead of being spread over the entire track.|
|The yellow and red flag indicates that there is debris on the track. This flag is only used on road courses.|
The Mudsummer Classic has a unique qualifying format. Each truck will take two timed laps, with the faster lap counting as that truck's official time. The trucks are assigned to a heat race where a specific number of trucks will advance. With the abolition of the all-exempt tour format in 2015, that has yet to be determined, but with 32 trucks in the field (five provisionals), the number of heat races and trucks that advance will be determined by NASCAR. Those that fail to qualify will have one last chance race, where the top four trucks advance to the feature. Provisionals will be determined after the Last Chance race.
All other races
A knockout system similar to Formula One is used.
For restrictor plate races, the vehicles are split into four groups, with each group having two minutes and thirty seconds (2:30) in the first round. For open engines at ovals, the first round is 15 minutes long. There is no first round of knockout qualifying on road courses. The top 24 advance to the second round. All eliminated vehicles start 25th to 36th (Sprint Cup), 33rd (Xfinity), or 27th (Camping World Truck). At the Daytona 500, eliminated vehicles are gridded 25th and back for purposes of the Duels.
After the first round, the top 24 cars advance to the second session, and except for the Daytona 500, all times are erased. The second round is ten minutes for ovals with an open engine, 25 minutes on road courses, or two groups (odd numbered and even numbered, based on finishing positions in the first round) of 2:30 each on restrictor plate races. At the end of the session, the top 12 advance to the final round. At ovals, the 12 eliminated vehicles start 13th to 24th, while at road courses they start 13th to 36th (Sprint Cup), 33rd (Xfinity), or 27th (Camping World Truck). At the Daytona 500, eliminated vehicles are gridded 13th to 24th for purposes of the Duels, and times in the second round only determine the 12 drivers who advance to the final round and grid positions for the Duels.
In the final qualifying session, which is 10:00 (road courses), 5:00 (open engine ovals), or 2:30 (restrictor plate races), pole position is set by the fastest time in this session. All previous qualifying times are wiped out, except for the Daytona 500. Teams may not change tires or make adjustments by pulling into the garage area, and can only make adjustments in the pit box assigned for qualifying. Except for the Daytona 500, vehicles start 1st to 12th. At the Daytona 500, vehicles start 1st and 2nd only, and other vehicles are gridded 3rd to 12th for purposes of the Duels. These vehicles' positions are determined solely by times from this qualifying round only.
A team may change a single tire only if it is defective during the session.
After the 2015 Daytona 500 qualifying incidents, starting with the 2015 Xfinity and Truck races at Daytona, for the restrictor plate races, once a vehicle is moving towards the track, it must proceed towards the track. Vehicles may not stop at the exit of pit lane. The rule changes were implemented after the 2015 Daytona 500 qualifying, where drivers repeatedly parked at the pit lane exit and refused to move for much of each round, with one incident resulting in damage to cars parked at pit exit, resulting in an ensuing crash in the first round. Furthermore, if a red flag stops qualifying, the clock is completely reset to 2:30 if no vehicles have taken a time.
Daytona 500 provisions
The session results do set the starting lineups for the Budweiser Duel races on Thursday.
The duel races are two 60 lap/150 mile races. The first race consists of those who finished qualifying in odd numbered positions and sets the lineup for odd numbered positions in the 500. The second race does the same for even numbered positions. After the Duel races, the lineup is set by the following:
- Positions 1–2: Fastest two qualifiers in Sunday's Knockout Qualifying
- Positions 3–32: Top 15 finishers in each Duel race (Odd numbered positions in race 1, even numbered positions in race 2) not already qualified.
- In each Duel, Positions 1-6 will be determined by the results in Q3, Positions 7-12 determined by the results in Q2, and Positions 13 and back determined by odd-finishing results among eliminated drivers in Q1.
- The fastest driver in Q3 starts 1st in Duel 1, and the second-fastest driver in Q3 starts 1st in Duel 2, the third fastest driver in Q3 starts 2nd in Duel 1, the fourth fastest driver starts 2nd in Duel 2, until the 11th fastest driver in Q3 starts 6th in Duel 1, and the 12th fastest driver in Q3 starts 6th in Duel 2.
- The fastest driver eliminated in Q2 (thirteenth fastest in Q2) starts 7th in Duel 1, second-fastest driver eliminated in Q2 starts 7th in Duel 2, third-fastest driver eliminated in Q2 starts 8th in Duel 1, fourth-fastest driver eliminated in Q2 starts 8th in Duel 2, until the 11th fastest driver eliminated in Q2 starts 12th in Duel 1, and the 12th fastest driver eliminated in Q2 starts 12th in Duel 1.
- The fastest driver eliminated in Q1 (twenty-fifth fastest in Q1) starts 13th in Duel 1, second-fastest driver eliminated in Q1 starts 13th in Duel 2, third-fastest driver eliminated in Q1 starts 14th in Duel 1, fourth-fastest driver eliminated in Q1 starts 14th in Duel 2, and so forth.
- In each Duel, Positions 1-6 will be determined by the results in Q3, Positions 7-12 determined by the results in Q2, and Positions 13 and back determined by odd-finishing results among eliminated drivers in Q1.
- Positions 33–36: Fastest qualifiers in Sunday's Knockout Qualifying not already qualified, regardless of session where time set.
- If a driver advances to multiple qualifying sessions, the driver's fastest time, regardless of qualifying session, will be used to determine qualifying times.
- A driver in Q3 who has a faster Q1 or Q2 qualifying time will have the fastest time in the three sessions used to determine speed.
- A driver eliminated in Q2 who has a Q1 time is faster than Q2, will have Q1 time determine his time.
- This provision only applies when the driver fails to advance from the Duels.
- Positions 37–42: Top 6 teams in the previous season's owner's points not already qualified (provisional rule, see below).
- Position 43: Reserved for the most recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver's Champion not already qualified for the race. If all past champions are already qualified, the position goes to the first team in the previous season's owner's points not already qualified (the provisional rule below still applies).
Positions 33-36 also carry a provision regarding a driver's fastest time.
All three NASCAR national series will set a specific number of starting positions by timed laps and have a specific number of starting positions based on owner points of vehicles that have not already qualified.
- Sprint Cup Series: 36 / 6 / 1
- Xfinity Series: 33 / 6 / 1
- Camping World Truck Series (except Mudsummer Classic): 27 / 4 / 1
In the Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series, six positions are awarded based on owner points to cars not already qualified. In the Camping World Truck Series, four positions are awarded based on owner points to trucks not already qualified.
The final position is reserved for a past series champion. Each past champion can use this past champions' provisional up to 6 times per season. If the past champions' provisional is not needed, then the position goes to the first team in owner points not already qualified for the race. It is important that if a former champion driver's team is one of the top six or four teams, respectively, highest in owner points, not already qualified, then that does not count against usage of the provisional.
If there are only 43, 40, or 32 vehicles entered in the respective races, no provisional are charged and the field will be determined by timed laps only.
After these positions are awarded, the cars are arranged by lap times.
Special race qualifying procedures
The Sprint Unlimited non-points race determines its starting lineup based on a blind draw. All-Star race qualifying consists of the combined time of 3 laps and a 4 tire pit stop.
The following is a list of NASCAR penalties. Penalties listed as "NASCAR Discretion" can result in a simple restart at the tail of the field, a multiple lap penalty, or disqualification.
Restarting at the End of the Line for the Ensuing Restart
- Pitting before pit road is open (Section 10-4B in Rule Book), administered if a driver enters pit road while the flashing lights indicating pit road is closed are on
- Pitting out of order (10-4B)
Restarting at the End of the Line (caution) or Drive-Through Penalty (green flag)
- Car/truck must enter pit road in single file (9-15C)
- Speeding while entering or exiting pit road (9-15D)
- Passing on pit road from the inside on entry (9-15C)
- Driving through more than 3 pit boxes to enter their pit stall (9-15C).
- Crewmember(s) over the wall too soon (9-15E)
- Use of extension poles are limited/not self illuminated (9-15G)
- Too many crewmembers in contact with pit service area (9-15H)
- Crew members returning from the equipment side of the wall (9-15H), not carrying the front air wrench back to the pit wall side of the car/truck (9-15J),
- Using more than two (2) air wrenches during one pit stop (9-15J)
- Non-compliant refueling
- Tossing or throwing the fuel filler/equipment (9-15M)
- Rolling a tire(s) beyond the center of pit road (9-15P)
- Hand pushing the car/truck more than 3 pit boxes to restart it (9-15Q)
- Going above the blend line exiting the pits (9-11) (except when safety vehicle requests such happen during pit stops during cautions.
- Car making entrance to pit road after crossing plane of pit entrance line or cone on track side (not pit side) of said point (9-15B)
- If the car is entering pit road to avoid an incident and has to cross the plane of road line track side, then enter pit road, no penalty.
- At Martinsville Speedway, the car must have two wheels cross the pit entrance line before the Turn 3 pit entrance.
Stop and Go Penalty
- Removing equipment from assigned pit area (9-15O) leads to a stop and go penalty.
- Speeding on pit road during pass-through penalty.
- Jumping any green flag (10-2A) results in a pass-through pit penalty.
- Passing after specific point on the "One to Go" signal (Turn 3 of most ovals, Turn 2 at Pocono, Turn 10 at Sonoma or Watkins Glen) (9-11)
- Passing on a start or restart (before start/finish line) (9-11)
- Illegal Lane Change on restart (9-11)
- Unapproved mechanical adjustment (flaring of rocker panels most notably) (10-7-1-1).
- Penalty only under yellow condition, enforced on the second lap following a restart, in addition to starting at the tail end of the field during for that restart. Under green condition, NASCAR will not allow the car on the track until the car is repaired legally.
One Lap Penalty
- Car/truck pitting out of the assigned pit box (9-15F) (NASCAR may relax the rule at tracks with shorter pit boxes)
- Passing the safety car (10-4D) (except for cars being subjected to the wave-around, or at some tracks where the radius of pit road is shorter than track, as in Martinsville and Bristol, where the pit road speed limit applies, and the safety car may be passed.)
- Pulling up to pit (9-15A) -- (drivers must maintain position in relation to field or face penalty, again rule differs at Martinsville and Bristol)
- Refueling car before race start OR when before the designated race distance, as in a competition caution called because of weather, passes (9-6D and 9-6E). Additional laps may be added to penalty.
Penalties assessed at NASCAR's discretion
- Running over/under equipment (9-15O)
- Running the stop and go sign/light (10-4C) (must be blatant; crossing the plane of the line or pole but stopping is not a penalty)
- Disobeying NASCAR request (9-11)
- Intentionally causing a caution (9-11)
- Verbal abuse to a NASCAR official (9-11)
- Disobeying Black Flag (10-6A)
- Safety violation
NASCAR conducts a complete technical inspection prior to the first practice session, before and after qualifying, and before the race. A quick safety inspection is also completed prior to each practice session after the first. Penalties for car violations are typically announced the Tuesday after a race, and can range from a simple fine to a suspension (typically a maximum of 12 races) and loss of points. After a race, the top 5 finishers, one other random car, and the first car failing to finish the race not due to an accident will have their cars inspected. The winner, random car, and first car out also have their cars and engines taken by NASCAR for further inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center. Further, there is one random race per year where NASCAR confiscates 15-20 engines and takes them to NASCAR's Research and Development Center for evaluation, comparison, and to help decide on future rule changes.
As a member of ACCUS/FIA, NASCAR has a substance abuse policy requiring random testing of drivers, crew members, and officials. Those who have violated the policy (including suspensions for domestic violence) are suspended indefinitely immediately and given the opportunity to enroll in NASCAR's Road to Recovery program to be re-instated into NASCAR.
During a race, teams must pit several times for refueling and new tires. Teams are permitted 6 crew members over the wall at the start of the race: 2 tire changers, 2 tire carriers, a jackman, and a gas man. Once NASCAR gives the OK (usually once the leader begins lapping cars), a 7th crew member is permitted only to service the driver/windshield.
There is an established pit road speed limit for each race. Since NASCAR cars do not have speedometers, the first pace lap of each race is run at pit road speed so drivers can get a tachometer reading for pit speed. There are a variety of other safety rules (see penalties above) that must be followed.
Two hours before the race, drivers and crew chiefs attend a mandatory driver's meeting. Failure to attend the meeting will force drivers to start at the rear of the field.
Roughly a half hour to 45 minutes before the race start time, driver introductions will be held. Failure to attend will also require the driver to start at the rear of the field.
At the designated start time (in most cases, 1:00 PM ET, 3:00 PM ET, or 7:30 PM ET for Sprint Cup Races), a pre-race invocation is given, followed by the singing of the national anthem. Once the anthem is complete, drivers have exactly 5 minutes to get in their cars with all the safety equipment fastened and ready to go. At the end of the 5 minutes, the grand marshal for the race will deliver the line "Drivers, start your engines!" at which point each car must start their engine. The cars sit on pit road, engines running, for approximately 3 minutes before heading on track for 3 pace laps. At the end of those 3 pace laps, the field will partake in a rolling start.
If the last lap of the race is started under caution, the race will be extended per NASCAR's Green-White-Checkered Procedure. Once the track is clear, the field will be given the green flag with two laps remaining. If there is another crash/caution, then the race will continue to be extended. However, if the leader of the race at anytime takes the white flag (starting the last lap of the race), the next flag (caution or checkered) will end the race (although competitors are required to cross the start/finish line at pace car speed to be scored in their position at the moment of caution). There is a maximum of three green-white-checker restarts-to date the maximum has only been reached once in Sprint Cup competition (2010 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, which finished under green) and three times in Xfinity competition.
After the race, the winning driver (and, if at the end of the season, championship winning driver) will usually complete a series of burnouts in celebration of their victory, before heading to victory lane for more celebrations and post-race interviews.
Since late 2001, a head and neck restraint has been required for usage of all drivers. Since 2005 the HANS Device (Head and Neck Support Device) has been the only such approved device. Since 2003, helmets have been required for pit crew members as well. Drivers and pit crew members must also wear firesuits. Drivers are required to use carbon fiber seats and headrests for strength and durability. Cars have also been redesigned since the death of Dale Earnhardt and after spectacular crashes to reflect new discoveries and developments in safety.
All oval tracks in NASCAR National Series run the SAFER Barrier and other soft wall technology to lessen impacts.
After a series of flips and dangerous crashes in the 1980s, NASCAR began requiring all cars to run a restrictor plate at Daytona and Talladega. The restrictor plate limits air into the engine, reducing horsepower and speed at these tracks from 230-240 mph to 195-200 mph. At these races, in addition to the restrictor plate, there are a variety of other technical rules and regulations to keep the cars stable and on the track. In addition to these technical rules, restrictor plate races are the only races where drivers are prohibited from using the apron of the track to execute a pass. A double yellow line separates the track from the racing surface, leading many to call the rule the "Yellow Line Rule." Driving under the line to advance one's position is subject to a drive-through penalty, or if the foul occurs on the last lap that car will be relegated to the last car on the lead lap in official race results.
NASCAR sanctions an annual 4-day pre-season test at Daytona International Speedway in January for all teams. After that test, each organization is allowed to do 4 2-day tests. Each test must be at a different race track. Rookie drivers are allocated an additional test.
Tire supplier Goodyear is allowed unlimited testing and can ask whichever teams it wants to complete the test. Usually Goodyear chooses the top 3 finishers from the previous year's event to run the test. However, Goodyear does stage a full-field tire test at Indianapolis in late June/early July in preparations for the Brickyard 400.
The Sprint Cup Series usually runs one day of practice and qualifying on Friday, followed by a second day of practice on Saturday morning, followed by the race. If running a Saturday night race, the second day of practice is not held. During impound races, the three-day schedule is maintained, with qualifying taking place of Saturday practice.
The Xfinity Series will run practice on Friday, followed by qualifying a few hours before the race on Saturday. If a race is on Friday (or the schedule is otherwise compacted for other reasons), it is not uncommon for practice, qualifying, and the race to all be held on the same day. The Camping World Truck Series usually does this.
Rain can and often does affect the weekend schedule. When it does, qualifying is routinely cancelled and the starting lineup is set by practice speeds. If practice is also cancelled, then points will set the starting lineup (previous year's points for the first 3 races).
- NASCAR.com FAQ/Customer service Retrieved 1/29/07
- Borden, Brett (April 11, 2008). "Contingency stickers fill front fenders and help with bottom line". espn.go.com. ESPN. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
- Staff report (October 22, 2014). "ENHANCEMENTS UNVEILED FOR XFINITY, TRUCK SERIES". nascar.com. NASCAR. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
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- Associated Press (June 20, 2003). "NASCAR gets $700 million from in Nextel sponsorship deal". lubbockonline.com. New York City: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
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- Spivey, Julian (November 2, 2014). "NASCAR's substitute driver rule ... A flawed policy?". motorsport.com. motorsport.com. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
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-  Article on blue flag
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