DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Sixteen drivers didn’t get too much of a feel for the new NASCAR rules for 2017 as they competed in the Clash at Daytona exhibition Sunday.
And then there was Kyle Larson.
Larson’s car was parked with 14 laps remaining when his team had more than six crewmen over the wall to work on the car. NASCAR’s new damaged vehicle policy states that the penalty for “too many men over the wall” is the car can’t continue in the race.
There was confusion all around the Chip Ganassi Racing camp as NASCAR had said the five-minute clock for repairs on pit road wouldn’t be used. But the remainder of the policy — that body panels and pieces can’t be replaced, work on damaged cars must be done on pit road, etc. — was in effect.
“I didn’t even know that was a rule,” Larson said. “I guess it doesn’t really matter because it’s just an exhibition race anyways. I feel bad for our new sponsor Credit One Bank that they don’t get to be part of the last 10 laps.
“It’s just confusing. We know now.”
Larson crew chief Chad Johnston said he wanted to talk to NASCAR about how it interpreted the rule.
“We didn’t have too many over as far as I can tell,” he said.
The new rules will be a learning experience for all teams. At the moment, teams will be responsible for knowing how much time they have on the five-minute clock to make minor damage repairs on pit road. NASCAR will let teams know when their time has expired, which would mean the car can’t return to the race.
NASCAR also is requiring all drivers to go to the infield care center after an accident, even if they drive the car into the garage. While NASCAR’s announcement of a new policy Friday indicated that all drivers would get a concussion assessment test, the test will only be administered if the care center doctors believe there is a concern of head injury.
“Maybe I did the protocol in there, I’m not really sure,” said seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson after a relatively minor crash. “They just evaluated me. It just seemed like a normal routine, so I don’t think I was in question to really go into the protocol.
“I will find out, I guess, at some point.”
“We haven’t talked about it leading into this,” Johnson said. “I saw Chase really loose a couple of times off of [Turn] 4. We will definitely be aware of it now, but it’s not anything that we planned on having to fight while we were out here.”