By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Prior to the start of the 2017 season, NASCAR instituted many changes throughout its’ top three series. Most notable of these changes were the race formats now including stages. In both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series, 36th through 40th now only pay one Championship point.
Another change that NASCAR instituted was the five-minute repair clock. Should a car or truck be involved in an accident, if the driver was able to return to pit road, the team is put on a five-minute clock. If the team is unable to repair their vehicle and exit pit road before the clock runs out, they are out of the race.
In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series, there is little motivation if the team is last because the next four positions all pay the same amount of points. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series however, last place, 32nd pays five Championship points, 31st pays six points, and so on.
This could lead to a rushed repair, or lack thereof. In last night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway, we saw examples of every kind of the new rule. Tyler Young’s No. 02 Randco Chevrolet Silverado was damaged to the point that the truck was crabbing down the straightaway. While catching up to the field under caution, a piece of the repair fell off his truck. Young failed to meet minimum speed and went to the garage.
Terry Jones’ No. 30 Nortax Ford F-150 team taped his passenger window back to his truck. Jones’ repair took longer than five minutes, and as a result, he was parked. Now, after two passenger windows fell out in practice this week after not being secured properly, one Korbin Forrister’s and the other from Kurt Busch, no amount of tape would have convinced me that the window would stay in place for 98 laps.
This brings me back to the five-minute rule’s intentions and the points structure. The five-minute rules’ number one mission is safety. It is meant to prevent parts and pieces from falling off vehicles and to lessen the danger that crews put themselves in while trying to make repairs. This will work in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series, but with the points structure in the Truck Series, there is an inherent flaw.
Now, you may be asking how can this flaw be fixed? There are two possible solutions that I can see to fixing the flaw:
The first option is change the points payout for the entire Truck Series starting in the 2018 season. The winner of a Camping World Truck Series race gets 32 Championship points, instead of 40, to reflect the difference in field size. Second place would then get 27 Championship points, third, 26 points, and so on. 28th through 32nd would then get one point each, which would match the other two NASCAR National Series.
The other option would be to keep the current point payout structure, but modify the final five positions payouts. Instead of 28th through 32nd paying between nine and five points, simply give all five positions nine points, eliminating the motivation for a quick repair.
Regardless of the route it decides to go, it’s safe to say that a slight modification for the Truck Series would make more sense than what we saw Friday night.