NASCAR announced today updates for the 2011 NASCAR regional touring series, highlighted by changes to simplify the rookie of the year award. Also announced were two changes to race procedures, the elimination of the post-qualifying redraw for starting position in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and a cost-saving spec-fuel program for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Drivers will be eligible to compete for Sunoco-sponsored rookie awards for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and rookie awards for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series if they meet the following criteria, as of the first race of their respective season:
• The driver has not competed in more than seven career races in the respective series
• The driver has not competed in more than three separate seasons in the respective series
• A driver has not competed in more than three career races in NASCAR’s national series
“The changes simplify the process for determining rookie eligibility and brings the program in line with how our Competition department evaluates competitors,,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR managing director of racing operations. “This makes it easier for our fans, competitors and media to follow, and maintains the competition for the awards among drivers who can truly be classified as rookies in their series.”
Rookies will continue to be scored in each race against other rookies, and the rookie of the year will be awarded to the driver who accumulates the most rookie points in their respective series during the season.
In addition, Sunoco’s sponsorship of the four U.S.-based touring series was extended through 2019, in conjunction with its sponsorship of the national series rookie programs.
"We are thrilled to sponsor NASCAR's Rookie of the Year. It supports rising young talent, promotes the future of a great sport, and makes for exciting racing as drivers compete for the title," said Bob Owens, Sunoco's senior vice president of marketing.
For the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, the Sunoco award will be paid out to the top three drivers in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings at the year-end awards banquet. Top finishing rookies will be recognized for the accomplishments at the following race.
Also announced are a pair of race procedures rules changes that bring the touring series in line with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
• If a green-white-checkered finish is necessary, a maximum three attempts will be made.
• On all restarts, passing will not be permitted until the car reaches the start-finish line.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West opener at Phoenix International Raceway last month and the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale, Calif., in January, competed under the new guidelines.
Also, in an effort to help teams contain costs, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and long-time fuel provider New England Race Fuels will utilize a spec fuel – Sunoco Blue 112 leaded – for 13 of its 16 races. Competitors are not required to purchase the fuel at the track, but are required to use the spec fuel. For the three events held in conjunction with NASCAR national-series events (New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July and September, and Bristol Motor Speedway in August), Sunoco GTX Unleaded will continue to be used.