Among NASCAR’s plethora of rule changes during the offseason included a five-minute rule to repair wrecked race cars on pit road.
Here’s the gist: Teams will have five minutes to make repairs on pit road during a race. If they cannot make those repairs within that time, or they have to go to the garage, they will not be allowed to come back on the track.
Also, teams will not be permitted to replace panels and other damaged sheet metal as seen in the past.
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Kyle Busch is one driver who is on board with the change, but he’s hesitant to believe five minutes is adequate time for teams to do a quality job.
“I think the five-minute repair rule is a good idea,” Busch said. “I think five minutes might be a little low, but you know, it is what it is. It’s the same for everybody.”
Busch also believes an increase in debris cautions could be a real unintended consequence of the new restriction.
“I do think having five minutes to slap a bunch of bear bond on there and not do it cleanly enough is going to cause a little bit of an issue with debris being on the race track more,” said Busch. “We may see more debris caution-type things with parts and pieces falling off on cars that haven’t already fallen off.”
Denny Hamlin is another driver in favor of the new changes, but he’s thinking the exact opposite of his Joe Gibbs Racing counterpart as far as debris cautions are concerned.
“I like it personally because you’re not going to have fenders flying off cars causing cautions that change the outcome of the race,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin also feels it won’t be as drastic of a change as many are anticipating, reflecting on when Austin Dillon finished third in the 2016 spring race at Talladega Superspeedway with a heavily damaged car.
“One of the keys to that is your five minutes resets once you get back up to minimum speed. So, you’re actually able to work on it,” Hamlin said. “I think Austin Dillon at Talladega has been brought up a few times, but they used multiple cautions to get that car repaired. I think they would still be able to do that.
“It may not be just perfect, but you’re still going to see some repaired cars out there, as long as they can make it up to speed,” Hamlin added.
Overall, Busch is happy to know the days of wrecked cars acting almost as roadblocks will be a thing of the past for the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series season and beyond.
“But in all essence, if they can’t keep themselves repaired and maintain minimum speed and they’re really not out there to finish top 20, then just go home,” Busch said. “I’m all for that. I love how now 35th to 40th is one single point. It’s the same point. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re racing around in a bad spot.”