France updates 2013 Cup car packages

NASCAR Chairman Brian France kept the focus on the 2013 Sprint Cup car on Saturday.

Questions on the “Gen 6” cars dominated the conversation. France says that input from the fans’ desire to reignite manufacturer rivalries contributed to the new car and greater identification with the vehicles.

“Obviously, the car manufacturers like more identification the better, and that’s good for them,” France said. “And then if we can have a trifecta where we can do all those things and then really put a rules package together that I’ve said recently uses a lot more science than art to get closer, tighter competition, then we’ve got a home-run package, and that’s what we’re planning to have.”

There were a few news issues that NASCAR tackled before France’s portion of the program.

– Taking in the prolific crop of up-and-coming racers, NASCAR will lower the age limit for the Truck series from 18 to 16 for road courses and any track 1.1 miles or shorter.

– Canadian Tire Motorsports Park will join the 2013 Truck schedule. As for the addition of Eldora Speedway, France said “it would be fun to see it happen” since dirt tracks are the fiber of the sport’s history. However, he did not confirm the date, which is expected to fall prior to the Brickyard 400 in July.

– To improve driver and manufacturer identity, the 2013 cars will feature the driver’s last name on the windshield. However, the sponsor logos will not be allowed on the headlights and taillights but the decals can be affixed to under the roof number and can extend past the front edge of the b-post on the side of the car. Car numbers will be on the front and rear bumpers, but not the lights. However, due to the smaller car, the size of the numbers and the contingency sponsor decals will be reduced by 10 percent.

During France’s availability, he touched on a variety of hot topics including policing “boys have at it,” use of electronic devices in the car in relationship to Brad Keselowski’s fine for carrying a phone in the car, introducing a digital cockpit by 2014 and attracting younger audiences.

Certainly, the accident between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer caught the attention of NASCAR and fans alike. France says that NASCAR remains a contact sport – and the sanctioning body “expects contact, especially late in the race.” However, limits remain and while drivers should know where the limits are, NASCAR will continue to police the situation.

France envisions a time where telemetry enables NASCAR to share additional real-time information to the fans. Although in response to Keselowski’s violation — the points leader was fined this week for having a cell phone in his car last weekend at Phoenix — France is concerned that with fuel injection “smart devices and smartphones and other devices can have an effect on manipulating the technology that is now going to be in the cars, and we have to be careful with that. And so that’s why our policy is that you’re simply not going to be able to take a device into the car with you.”

Also, NASCAR is hoping to work with its media partners “to continue to present our sport in innovative and broader ways than they currently do now” to further enhance the product and deliver it through ever-expanding avenues.