When the 2011 NASCAR season kicks off in Daytona next month, new asphalt is just one of many changes facing race teams for the new season.
NASCAR announced on Wednesday their points scoring system has been totally revamped. Also changed is the way drivers qualify for positions 11 and 12 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The new points system – which applies to all NASCAR national series – will award points in one-point increments. As an example, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, race winners will earn 43 points, plus three bonus points for the win. Winners also can earn an extra point for leading a lap and leading the most laps, bringing their total to a possible maximum of 48 points.
The last two positions in the chase become "Wild Cards" and will go to non-top-10-ranked drivers with the most wins, as long as they’re ranked in the top 20 in points.
Other major changes include a new configuration for the front valance and splitter that eliminates the need for braces and gives the cars a cleaner look up front. Also for the new season NASCAR is going green. Teams will be running E15 ethanol fuel in its three national touring series. Sunoco Green E15 is a 15-percent blend using American-made ethanol from corn grown by American farmers.
NASCAR has mandated changes to the fuel delivery system in all three racing series. The fuel dump cans are now self venting and eliminates the need for the "catch-can man." Teams are saying that dumping a full tank of fuel using the new system adds one to two seconds to pit times. Team engineers are working to overcome this time adder.
Then there's the twenty million dollar paving job at Daytona. In practice last week drivers were eclipsing 200 miles per hour on the backstretch. When asked to give a preview of what to expect in the 500, NAPA Auto Parts driver, Martin Truex Jr., said, "It's going to be wild. It's going to be fun. I love racing here. Here and Talladega are some of the most fun races for us as drivers." Wild and fast – just the way fans like it.
Fans have never seen racing at Daytona like they will be treated to next month. Teams will be comfortably running three and four wide all day, and faster than ever at this speedway.
Racing from Daytona begins February 12th with the Budweiser Shootout, followed a few days later with the twin qualifiers on February 17th. The big race is Sunday the 20th and will be televised by Fox Sports. Don't miss it.