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Vital signs in NASCAR: Drivers can monitor their health data during races in 2017

Fitness Tracker Company Fitbit Debuts As Public Company On NYSE

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18: The line of Fitbit products are displayed during a lunchtime workout event outside the New York Stock Exchange during the IPO debut of the company on June 18, 2015 in New York City. According to reports, shares of Fitbit, which makes wearable fitness tracking devices, rose significantly on Thursday after debuting as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Heart rates could be more quantifiable than horsepower in NASCAR races next year.

As part of the 2017 rules (which feature a shorter spoiler and some safety enhancements), Sprint Cup drivers will be allowed to use biometric devices (such as a Fitbit tracker or Apple Watch) to monitor their vital signs.

The device must be powered by an internal battery and can’t be connected to a car’s electrical system. Data also won’t be available yet for downloading in real time during qualifying or the race, but there’s hope it eventually could be used in a way to appeal to fans.

“It’s cool to show and it’s another talking point. I think the broadcast booth and then how it’s integrated into the NASCAR app and things could be really cool and something else for the fans to see.”

NASCAR executive vice president Gene Stefanyshyn said the biometric devices were permitted at the drivers’ behest.

“This is their private information, if anyone ever was to broadcast that, it has to be discussed properly,” Stefanyshyn said. “If you want to wear one in a car, we’ve given some rules.”

Carl Edwards said he had tried to measure his heart rate once in a race car, and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is interested in measuring his fitness against the competition.

“It sounds like it would be something cool for the fans to watch, and it would be cool to go back through the race and see,” he said. “Hopefully it goes that direction. That would be pretty interesting to watch.”