NASCAR has instituted several new rules to make racing more competitive and limit two car drafting this coming season. Among the new rules that has nothing to do with the cars themselves – drivers may communicate with their spotter and their crew during a race but not with other drivers, spotters or crewmen from other teams.
In the last restrictor-plate race at Talladega last fall, drivers had a dozen or more other drivers they could talk to and made deals with whom they would draft with in the two-car tandems.
“Matt Kenseth … said anything that NASCAR can do to help us get back to 1 against 42 others, he supports, and I think that’s part of it, whether it be the confusion from the driver’s seat or the being able to cut a deal or whatever it is,” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said.
Some drivers liked being able to use one spotter for two cars because the driver pushing in a two-car draft can’t see much except the car in front.
But driver feedback also indicated that it was distracting.
“There was a point where it got so confusing to them that they actually lost focus on what they were doing and felt much better if we could back that off somewhat and get it to a standard or more common communications between driver and spotter and driver and pit crew as we’ve known it in the past,” Darby said.
Spotters can still listen to multiple radios and know what’s being said by the other driver in the two-car tandem to help deliver information quickly. Crew chiefs also can talk to each other.
“The teams will still work with [each other] inside the rule, whether it’s spotters on the roof, swapping notes back and forth,” Darby said. “There will be plenty of communications going on and the drivers will be almost as aware as they were, I guess.
“But it just seemed like that would be helpful to unclutter the airwaves a little bit if you would and make the communications more point blank and direct to within the team.”