A number of changes are set to take place when the 2018 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series season gets underway. That will officially go down when the cars take the green flag at Daytona International Speedway in a few weeks.
For the first time in a long time, the NASCAR Cup Series schedule will have a distinctively different look. A number of events and date shifts have given the 2018 calendar a brand new feel for the 2018 season. Now, the regular season will end at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in early September. That means that the iconic speedway will determine the 16-drivers that will be eligible for this year’s post-season.
With Indianapolis’s shift from the summer race to a fall one, Chicago’s contest will go down in July. Chicagoland Speedway isn’t a stranger to races in the middle of the summer. Basically, they are returning to the track’s tradition that started in 2001 when it first hosted the Cup Series.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway will stay on the summer tour but the track’s fall date has been moved to Sin City. The mile and a half venue will still host its annual spring race weekend but also add a second. The second of the races will now serve as the first showdown for the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series playoff opener.
With the Brickyard 400 taking over the final regular season spot, Richmond Raceway now will host a post-season contest. In addition, Charlotte Motor Speedway will add a road course into the championship picture. The brand new road racing course will utilize both the existed oval track and a new circuit built inside the stadium.
There are some interesting changes coming to some of NASCAR’s illustrious tracks. Richmond International Raceway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Phoenix some to name a few. Charlotte will debut their new road course in 2018. Richmond is adding improved fan access in the infield and a fan viewing walkway. It will be accomplished by using the newly updated garage. It will have an overlook where enthusiasts can scrutinize the inspection process. The paddock will also add more area for fans to socialize and more spaces for RV campers.
The Virginian venue also plans on moving Victory Lane closer to the grandstands. This improvement will give fans at the new club level a chance to watch post-race celebrations from above. The construction should be completed and ready for first NASCAR Cup Series playoff weekend in the fall.
ISM Raceway is undergoing a $178 million dollar rebuild. You might know this track by its former name, Phoenix International Speedway. With the new look, the start/finish line will be moved to Turns 1 and 2. Now, the finish line will be right in front of newly upgraded grandstands. Like Richmond, the changes, are scheduled to be completed for the playoff race in November.
Crew Member Limitations
Adjustments in the pits will be a huge change for the Cup Series teams in 2018. Most notably, the pit crews. As of now, only five guys will be allowed over the wall to work on the car. Before the change, six members were allowed to breach the barrier and work on the hotrod. The move is part of a sweeping change NASCAR made to team personnel guidelines. Not only in the Cup Series but also the series below it.
The pit crews won’t be the only ones that will have to adapt to the new changes the Cup Series has constructed. NASCAR will also standardize the number of at-track individuals who work on each vehicle during a race weekend. As a result, rosters for all three series will now be categorized. There will be three labels for all the Cup Series’ teams to fall into. They are the Organizational, Road Crew and Pit Crew.
For each category, the team will decide how to distribute the positions on their respective rosters. For example, a Monster Energy Series team’s Road Crew (12 team members) could be made up of a crew chief, car chief, five mechanics, two engineers and three specialists.
Chevrolet Moves Camaro to Cup Series
Chevrolet announced last August it will begin using the Camaro model in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018. The Camaro ZL1 will now run instead of the SS model. Interestingly, the Camaro SS has been used in the Xfinity Series since 2013.
As for the Ford drivers, well its hurry up and wait. Apparently, NASCAR will see how the Camaro model changes do before they change the model on the Fords. Many think the Mustang could very well be coming next year. As of now, Ford officials are mum on the issue. For many others, the change couldn’t come quick enough.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Point System Changes
In two weeks, the green flag will wave over what will be to be the youngest DAYTONA 500 field in Cup Series history. And today, NASCAR announced an update to the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points structure in all three national series. The changes will place a brighter spotlight on some of those young stars competing in the three series.
Beginning this season, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year point system will mirror the points structure that decides the season-long championship. That also includes stage points and playoff points. The eventual Sunoco Rookie of the Year will be the one who earns the most points throughout the season. Because of the new system, stage racing for rookie drivers will be important no matter where they are in the standings.
Just like the season-long points structure, a victory will earn a Sunoco Rookie 40 points. It also will give them a bonus five playoff marks. A second-place finish will earn a Sunoco Rookie 35 points. A third-place finish is worth 34 points, and so on. The Sunoco Rookie who wins a stage will earn 10 points and one playoff point.
“The focus on our rising stars has never been stronger. Also, simplifying the Sunoco Rookie of the Year system made perfect sense,” said Jim Cassidy. Cassidy is a NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “Our fans track closely the progress of our young drivers. Now, they match the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points structure with the championship points. This will also help them follow this prestigious program and award more closely than ever before.”
Cup Series Odds and Future Bets
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