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Clarity coming to race rulebook

NASCAR to put standards online

– NASCAR plans to automate its rulebook and revamp its appeals process in a wide-ranging effort to bring more clarity to race teams and fans.

The governing body outlined several initiatives Monday it expects to implement in its three major series before the start of the 2015 racing season. The effort started eight months ago and will be an ongoing process to keep up with technology and fan interests, said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations

“I think it’s a change in how we do business moving forward,” O’Donnell said.

That includes converting its rule book from a word document to computer automated-design drawings that can be easily accessed by race shops to see what’s allowed and what isn’t. Penalties will be specifically spelled out for each type of infraction. When a rule is broken and a team appeals, NASCAR wants more experts on the panel instead of some who might not have as strong a background regarding the infraction.

“I think we put some people in somewhat tough positions” at hearing appeals, O’Donnell acknowledged. “We owe it to the industry to have experts sit in on that and make proper rulings.”

O’Donnell also discussed innovations geared to the racing fans. He said NASCAR wanted to keep in synch with what people drive on the streets so their experience can match somewhat with their favorite Sprint Cup driver on the track.

Another area was shifting more inspection responsibility to NASCAR’s Research & Development operation away from the track, freeing up more time for race teams to practice instead of waiting to have their cars looked at.

There might also be locked-in times for on-track inspections.

O’Donnell said NASCAR would also improve information fans can access about pit stops, although he wasn’t yet sure if it would be limited to online access, a component at each track for fans at the stands, or both.

O’Donnell said the effort has the full backing of NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France, who understood the significant investment it would take to make these changes. “It’s a big spend on our part. We’re aware of that,” O’Donnell said. “We want to position NASCAR for the future.”

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