NASCAR addresses fire hazard to Cup cars with rule change
NASCAR has made a rule update to address the fire in Kevin Harvick’s car in last weekend’s Southern 500.
All Cup teams must make the changes before this weekend’s action at Kansas Speedway. Cup teams practice and qualify Saturday. The Cup race is at 3 p.m. ET Sunday on USA Network.
The move comes after Harvick was critical of NASCAR and the Next Gen car after a fire ended his race at Darlington Raceway. Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that it was “unacceptable” that cars were catching on fire and that the sanctioning body was looking into changes.
NASCAR announced the change Wednesday. The rule update states:
- A lateral seal/dam must be installed between the back of the front clip weight box and the top of the splitter panel (location shown below). This seal must extend laterally to the width of the engine panel.The purpose of this dam is to reduce the migration of tire debris from the splitter area.
- The lower front section of the right side back stop panel must be trimmed as indicated. The section that is removed must be replaced by a 14 gauge stainless steel panel. The steel panel must be mounted inboard of the polymer panel.
- Using any joint adjustment available in the exhaust assembly, it is recommended that the clearance between the exhaust and the floor of the rocker box is maximized.
Rudy Fugle, crew chief for William Byron, addressed the change Wednesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio:
“This panel is going to do a good job of closing off the bottom where the fire is going to come into the cockpit,” Fugle said. “ … It’s gonna help protect the driver.
“The big part of this steel panel that’s going in the right front foot box, rocker panel area, it’s going to keep that fire from going straight into the car. It’s got something that won’t burn. And so that’s a positive. Then they’ve recommended some coating that has some fire protective properties in it.”
One of the key issues has been rubber getting into the car and catching fire in those areas.
“There’s an intake for air in front of the car and it has hoses that go into those rocker boxes and rubber is going through those hoses, collecting on the headers,” Fugle said. “We have to vent all this stuff and a place like Darlington, which we all know chews up tires …we were able to count 20 pounds of rubber on some of our cars post-Darlington. We were able to ball it all up and there was 20 pounds of rubber sitting in different areas. So that’s a whole bunch that can catch on fire.”