NASCAR doing a little damage control

Denny Hamlin (11) hits the wall as he wrecks with A J Allmendinger, back, and Dave Blaney (7) as Greg Biffle (16) drives past in the NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, July 6, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/David Yeazell)

A rules change will prevent NASCAR teams from repairing heavily damaged cars during races.

Here’s how NASCAR describes the change:

Under the guidelines, teams no longer will be allowed to replace damaged body parts that are the result of accidents or contact. Repairs, such as fixing damaged sheet metal, will be allowed; however, teams will be given five minutes to fix damage once they enter pit road. If the damage requires the car to go behind pit wall or to the garage for repairs, the car will not be allowed to return to the race. Also, if the repairs take longer than the five minutes allowed, the car will not be permitted to return to the race. Once repairs have been made, a car is still required to maintain the minimum speed determined for that event. Once that has been accomplished, the five-minute clock is reset in case the car needs to come back down pit road.

Here’s the previous rule:

Teams were allowed to replace any damaged panels or parts with no time limit and no penalty. Quarter panels, splitters, hoods and deck lids damaged in accidents were often removed and replaced. Some repairs were completed on pit road; more extensive damage often meant a trip to the garage. Each time, the driver was sent back out onto the track as quickly as possible.

Here’s why the change was made:

The reason for the new policy is multi-fold. Damaged vehicles are often compromised structurally, and even with repairs a driver is at greater risk of injury were they to be involved in another accident. Additionally, damaged cars have a tendency to spew parts and pieces on the track — especially at restrictor-plate tracks Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway where multi-vehicle accidents are commonplace — resulting in avoidable caution periods. The rule change will also save teams money. No longer will teams need backup body panels and crash carts to quickly fix damaged cars or trucks.

Black Flag’s Stef Schrader is not excited about the change:

What it also does is make it easier than ever to wreck your nemesis out of the race. … When the inevitable “revenge punt” happens, this will ensure that the recipient will be completely hosed, with no chance of driving their way back into a decent points result. … Sadly, this will rob NASCAR of some of its most heroic moments, where a crashed car comes back to a decent finish, despite time spent fixing it in the garage. Thanks, NASCAR.

These folks aren’t too pleased, either:

Others are taking it stride:

USA Today summarizes the reaction to all of NASCAR’s many offseason changes:

This guy made a funny:

What do you think? Will the new Damaged Vehicle Policy hurt the sport?

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