NASCAR Announces Rule Changes for Kansas in Response to Fire Issues at Darlington

by Jonathan Howard

After yet another car caught on fire at Darlington last Sunday, NASCAR has announced rule changes ahead of the playoff race at Kansas Speedway. Kevin Harvick did not mince words when he had to drop out of the Southern 500 following a fire in his car. “Crappy” parts are what he attributed it to. While this is an issue that each manufacturer has dealt with in some way, it seems that the Fords have been plagued.

NASCAR has let the teams know about the rule changes ahead of the Hollywood Casino 400. This Next Gen car is an active experiment. NASCAR has had to be more reactive because, outside of short and temporary fixes and rule changes – not much else they can do without stopping the season.

NASCAR Rule Changes For Kansas

So, teams can now use intumescent coatings on the underside of the car, NASCAR announced. This is where the lower crush panels are located. It would go into the exhaust cover panels and the upper surface of the rocker box. NASCAR booth announcers have noted that the rocker box seemed to be the source of some of these fires, or at least that general location.

The coating can also be applied to the right side stop panel.

Intumescent coatings swell when temperatures rise. This protects steel parts and seals up gaps in case a fire breaks out. This is an optional change that teams can choose to do or not.

Mandatory Change

Also included in the changes, is a mandatory rule for all teams. There now has to be a “lateral seal/dam … installed between the back of the front clip weight box and the top of the splitter panel. … The purpose of this dam is to reduce the migration of tire debris from the splitter area.”

Here is a visual from NASCAR, via Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass.

So, more changes coming to this car in order o ensure the safety of drivers and make sure that these cars are able to hold up under the pressure of a Cup Series race. Harvick had a car that theoretically could have won on Sunday. He could have at least scored points and placed in the top 10 if he had a good race.

Not to mention, Harvick is a real deal threat to win the Cup Series Playoffs. He had back-to-back wins and the Fords have gotten stronger all season, and that’s not really the case with the other manufacturers, you could argue. This should be a good move that keeps drivers safe and the races as competitive as they should be.

NASCAR doesn’t make these rule changes lightly, especially ahead of a race like Kansas. Let’s hope we see some great action and no fires this weekend as the Cup Series Playoffs continue.