Last week, we kicked off the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season with the first mailbag of the year. Let’s keep it going this week, with some more excellent reader questions.
Remember, if you have a NASCAR question, you can send it to my e-mail Tom.Jensen@Fox.com, or on Twitter @tomjensen100 or on Facebook. Now, let’s get to your questions.
John David MercerJohn David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor
If a driver has a tire blow out and it tears a quarter panel or fender off the car will NASCAR consider that a mechanical failure that the team can repair or a wreck that they can not? — Steve
Thanks, for the question, Steve. Unfortunately, the answer is something of a Catch-22. If the car doesn’t make contact with a wall or another car, it can be repaired.
But — and it’s a big but, the team still can’t use replacement parts. So let’s say a driver blows a left-rear tire and tears the quarter panel off the car, the team can no longer get another quarter panel and use it to patch the car up. So even though the driver wasn’t in an accident, he still could be knocked out of the race.
Do you like or dislike the new format changes and the damaged car policy? – Judy
Well, there’s a lot that goes into that. First off, I do like the stages. Short tracks all over the country run heat races. I think it’s going to add a lot of excitement to the first half of the races, which is needed.
As far as the points go, I want to see how it actually works in the real world. I think it will be fine, but I want to see how it plays out. Before, NASCAR didn’t do nearly enough to reward the regular-season champion. Now, it could be just the opposite, with too much weight in terms of bonus points on the regular season. We’ll see. I admit I’m curious.
As I have said before, the damaged-car policy is great. There is no reason whatsoever to put a damaged race car back on track so a driver can finish 36th instead of 39th. None. IMHO, they should have done this years ago.
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukJohn K Harrelson
A question I’ve always been unclear on and wanted to try and find out more info on in race radio communication paths. I’m sure it’s tricky due to secured and public channels. NASCAR communicates to spotter. Driver, crew chief, spotter and owner can all communicate. Is it as simple as that? — Doug
NASCAR’s race director does communicate with the spotter most frequently when relaying a message to a team, however it also has other ways to communicate with other parties on the team, if needed.
Nigel Kinrade/LAT Photo USA
What year and why did they make the cars so uniform? Miss old school racing! – Cathy
When the Car of Tomorrow came out in 2007, it was a huge mistake. The cars lost all identity from manufacturer to manufacturer. The drivers hated them, the car companies hated them and more importantly, the fans hated them.
Wisely, NASCAR listened and the current Generation cars that were introduced in 2013 are a huge improvement aesthetically, with much more individuality from brand to brand. Now, you can look at a car in primer and know whether it’s a Ford or a Chevy or a Toyota.
As far as “old-school” racing, I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I can promise you it’s not going be 1976 again anytime soon. Go on YouTube and watch some old races. Seriously. The racing definitely was not better back then.
I haven't heard many details about the new NASCAR traveling medicine show. Are the doctors and nurses taking care of only MENCS drivers or will they have XFINITY and Camping World competitors as their patients? — Greg
Per my discussion with NASCAR, the updated model is for the industry, not just drivers, and will be available at all companion events in 2017.
When was the first year it was mandatory for a neck restraint and why? – Clarence
In Oct. 2001, head-and-neck restraints were made mandatory. And the reason is four drivers — Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, Tony Roper and Dale Earnhardt — were killed in accidents between May 2000 and February 2001.
Tom, I still haven't grasped how the points will work in XFINITY, when the Cup drivers are racing. Will they (Cup drivers) get the points or will it start with the first XFINITY driver? – Melissa
Drivers must declare at the start of each season which series they are racing for points in. So, no, Cup drivers will not get points in any XFINITY race, nor will they earn points for wins or top-10 finishes in stages.
And Cup drivers with five years of experience or more are limited to appearing in no more than 10 XFINITY races. Also, no Cup drivers in the Dash 4 Cash races or the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
With the damaged car rule in place will we see more "in line" racing because everyone wants to make it to the last segment or will they still take risks? — Shane
That’s the big question. On the one hand, NASCAR has rewarded drivers with points for stage finishes. On the other hand, they have sent a mixed message, IMHO, by not letting wrecked cars back in the race.
My guess? You’ll see more aggressive racing at short tracks and less aggressive racing on restrictor-plate tracks, where getting caught up in the big one — especially early in the race — would be really, really bad.
John David MercerJohn David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Will races now run even longer because of the 'segment' racing to be run this year?Races to be broken up into 3 phases. There will be time spent in the pits between each phase.Will this not extend the length of each and every race? — Bob
Excellent question. I put this one to NACAR and they said they do not expect the races to get longer. “NASCAR is working closely with broadcast partners to minimize anytime between stages and the overall structure of the operations are expected to be very similar,” a NASCAR spokesman told me. “For instance, the number of pit stops in a race is not expected to change as the overall race lengths will remain constant.”