New stage procedures, ‘Hail Melon’ ban, expanded rain racing among changes for 2023
NASCAR announced Tuesday a plethora of rule changes for the 2023 season.
Headlining the changes is the elimination of stage cautions on road courses, except for standalone Xfinity and Truck races.
NASCAR cited data from the Fan Council and industry discussions as motivation for the rule change. Stage points will be awarded when a stage ends but a stage caution won’t fly.
The sanctioning body says they hope to encourage teams to employ more varied pit strategies that could shake up the feel and flow of a road course race.
In 2023, no one will be able to replicate Ross Chastain’s ‘Hail Melon’move. NASCAR will now levy a time penalty for any similar attempts, citing rule 10.5.2.6.A. The rule states, in part, “any violations deemed to compromise the safety of an Event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk… are treated with the highest degree of seriousness.”
Before 2023, wet-weather equipment could only be used in road course races. Now, in 2023, that equipment could be used in races at the following tracks that are a mile or less in length and are low-banked:
- L.A. Memorial Coliseum
- Martinsville Speedway
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway
- North Wilkesboro Speedway
- Phoenix Raceway
- Richmond Raceway
- The Milwaukee Mile
- Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park
Other rule changes specify any driver that participates in every event is playoff eligible if they win and, if they miss an event, a waiver from NASCAR.
Previously, Cup drivers needed to be in the top 30 in points to be playoff-eligible with a win and Xfinity and Truck drivers needed to be in the top 20 to be playoff eligible with a win.
Penalties for a detached wheel have also been amended. Instead of a four-race suspension, a two-lap penalty and two-race, series-specific suspension for two crew members will be levied.
If the detached wheel is isolated to pit road, a pass-through penalty will be levied under green and a tail end of the longest line penalty will be levied under caution.
The choose rule has also been expanded to Atlanta, Daytona, Talladega and Bristol dirt. The restart zone is also going to be increased by 50% in length for the first five races, then NASCAR will assess its use in the following races.
Hail Melon sounds too speculative. Use the double yellow line rule. You can’t improve your position on the track if you are in contact with and/or intend to use the wall for said purpose.