Todd Gilliland was frustrated with NASCAR’s Damaged Vehicle Policy at Texas Motor Speedway when he wound up with a DNF in the NASCAR Cup Series due to being unable to drive his car back to his pit stall after his No. 38 lost a wheel. Does NASCAR need to make changes to the DVP?
Phil Allaway: I’ve been against the Damaged Vehicle Policy from the moment it was introduced. It is ridiculous and shouldn’t exist. The change should be to abolish it. NASCAR already had rules stating what you could and couldn’t change (engines, mainly) prior to the DVP being created. I always found the whole thing incoherent and completely out of step with the rest of motorsports. Yes, you shouldn’t be changing engines. There should not be backup cars being brought out in the middle of races. But kill the DVP. Should have never existed in the first place.
Joy Tomlinson: Yeah, NASCAR should make adjustments to the DVP. Safety crew trucks should be able to push the car if it has flat tires and not start the clock until they get the car in the stall. Other than that, I’m not exactly sure how to fix the problem when all the tires are flat; sometimes the rear diffuser gets damaged if it’s put on a wrecker or something. Also, teams don’t have enough time to fix issues on pit road; last year, NASCAR had increased the time to 10 minutes but brought it back down to seven minutes this year. That’s not very long, and sometimes debris flies off of cars and causes a caution to wave.
Taylor Kornhoff: NASCAR should make the DVP clock a standard 15 minutes all the time. I recognize the need for the clock, but in order to allow teams that are able to get their car back on track to have the time they need, 15 minutes is a good amount of time. It’s time to start utilizing the durability of the current generation car.
Mark Kristl: Not for 2023, because I am not a fan of making in-season changes that do not affect safety. But yes, for 2024 NASCAR ought to amend the DVP with this: If a driver cannot drive their racecar back to their pit stall due to a lost tire, NASCAR will tow the racecar to the pit stall so the team can put a tire back on the racecar. As a result, the driver will be held for four laps as a penalty for the lost wheel.
Where does William Byron rank in Hendrick Motorsports history?
Kristl: William Byron ranks sixth in victories in HMS history. The top five are Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Terry Labonte. All five have won a championship at HMS; Byron has not. So he is the best of the rest.
Kornhoff: Right now, Byron is in company with Kasey Kahne, Alex Bowman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. when it comes to HMS. He already has more wins than all of them as you stack it right now, so he’s on track to become about even with Labonte in his stretch with the team, especially if Byron can pull off a championship. If he doesn’t go back to his pre-2023 form and continues to become even better, he will probably join Elliott and Larson in elite company.
Tomlinson: He’s still young, and I’m sure he has a lot of racing and wins left in him, but currently, I’d rank him similar to Earnhardt and Tim Richmond. Those two, as well as Darrell Waltrip, had nine wins with Hendrick, while Byron has 10. If he keeps winning the next few years like he has this year, he’ll continue to contend for championships.
Allaway: It’s still a little early to say. Byron’s still young and potentially not even in his prime yet. I’d say he’s pretty good, better than drivers like Ken Schrader. The thing is, he still has a lot of room to grow. He’s not going to be Johnson or Gordon, but when he’s done, he could be top five all time in the team.
Who should drive the No. 25 for Rackley WAR in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2024?
Tomlinson: Rajah Caruth, Grant Enfinger and Chase Purdy are all worthy candidates. Enfinger has three wins this year and is a solid veteran of the series; he would bring the experience the team needs to be a championship contender. After all, Rackley made the playoffs this year on points. Caruth and Purdy are both young talents who run Chevrolets and don’t have plans set for next year. GMS Racing is shutting down, while Spire Motorsports bought Kyle Busch Motorsports. Purdy has come close to winning several times, and Caruth has shown growth as of late, earning two top 10s in the last four races.
Allaway: Noah Gragson. He needs a place to relaunch his career after spectacularly destroying it earlier this year, and Rackley was Matt DiBenedetto‘s landing spot after he flunked out of Cup a couple of years ago. This scenario likely would have been in play without the tone-deaf like, as he had already bombed his rookie year in the Cup Series by that time. In an interview after crashing out at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in June, he stated that he was looking forward to the offseason. Rackley has decent equipment, and its development group is years away from being remotely ready. If it doesn’t go with Gragson full-time next year, it’s taking a chance on someone in the ARCA Menards Series.
Kristl: Gragson is reinstated by NASCAR and he is seeking a redemption tour. Rackley has sponsorship, so Gragson would not need to bring funding. He would stay within the Chevrolet camp, a place he’s been since he joined JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Gragson also has two Truck wins. More impressively, he has 30 top 10s in 47 starts. So he has fared well in Truck competition. Running well would also provide Gragson with something that he has lacked this year: confidence. For Rackley, Gragson is similar to DiBenedetto, a Cup driver who lost his ride but is still talented enough to be successful with the team.
Kornhoff: If Dawson Sutton or any other Rackley development driver does not drive the truck, it will probably be a former GMS driver. I could see Caruth or Enfinger potentially grabbing the ride. Both drivers could elevate that ride to the level that DiBenedetto has.
What letter grade do you give the 2024 NTT IndyCar Series schedule?
Kornhoff: A solid A. It had one of the best racing products of any series this year, and it’s great to see many of the venues returning. Of course, the elephant in the room is The Milwaukee Mile. I am divided on the change since Texas actually put on a good show for IndyCar. But really, since it is a soul for a soul, the schedule sits at an A. Plus, I suppose it’s doing it because it’s going to turn it into Atlanta Motor Speedway 2.0?
Kristl: B+. Yay to IndyCar for returning to Milwaukee. However, the first race of the doubleheader is on Peacock, so hopefully the hype for it will overcome its lack of being on a TV channel. It will be interesting to see if that racetrack doubleheader can generate as much excitement as the IndyCar doubleheader at Iowa Speedway. Although NASCAR fans may not love Texas, it’s a shame IndyCar is no longer going there, especially when there is about a month gap between the second and third events. When TMS opted not to retain IndyCar, it’s a bummer the series could not move the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca event to fill that gap and then add a racetrack such as Richmond Raceway to the Laguna Seca June 23 date.
Allaway: C-. Not pleased that Texas got dropped. The series continues to have no real East Coast presence and hasn’t had one for a long time; it needs something there. I’m happy that it’s returning to Milwaukee, but it’s actually down a race weekend from this year since that’s another doubleheader while keeping the same number of races (17).
Tomlinson: Maybe a B- or C+. There’s no Texas on there, and that was a great event over the last few years. IndyCar did bring back Milwaukee; short track ovals can be fun to watch. Someone posted a map of the locations where IndyCar is going, and it was mostly Midwest or West. Nothing is on the East Coast. Also, I dislike that it reduced the number of races airing on NBC next year. One of my favorite events, the Streets of Long Beach, is on USA Network, while the Streets of Toronto and the first Milwaukee race are on Peacock only. Doing things like this won’t garner more views.
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