NASCAR has announced more relaxed regulations for bump-drafting at restrictor plate tracks, as part of a range of rule changes revealed on Thursday.
Following a controversial finish at Talladega in April 2009, in which Carl Edwards' car took off and ripped through part of the catch fencing, officials decided to ban bump-drafting in the turns when the series returned to the track in November. Fans and drivers were critical of the ruling and blamed it for causing long periods of single-file racing.
In a bid to try to avoid a repeat and improve the spectacle at both Talladega and Daytona, NASCAR will eliminate any bump-drafting restrictions at events held at these two tracks.
"Over the past 10 years we've dramatically increased safety and that mission continues," said NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France. "However, it's time for us to allow the drivers to drive. We don't want the rules and regulations to get in the way of great racing and fantastic finishes. NASCAR is a contact sport – our history is based on banging fenders."
Talladega Superspeedway president Rick Humphrey welcomed the news, which he expects will please some of the fans who were left frustrated when the series competed at the venue last autumn.
"Certainly race fans have high expectations when they come to Talladega Superspeedway," said Humphrey. "They expect the tightest racing, the most lead changes, the most passes and the closest finishes. The return of bump-drafting certainly moves us toward meeting and exceeding each of those expectations."
Additionally, NASCAR has announced a larger restrictor-plate size of 63/64 of an inch for the season-opener at Daytona, which is set to increase horsepower.
Officials also confirmed the transition to the new rear spoiler, which was tested for the first time on track this week at Texas, and revealed that changes to the front end of the car are possible and currently under evaluation.
NASCAR also announced that current Sprint Cup Series director John Darby has been promoted to managing director of competition, and will oversee all three national series' directors, officials, inspection processes and race officiating. Darby will continue to fulfill his previous role until his replacement is named.