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NASCAR bans drivers from leaving car during races

Robin Pemberton, vice president for competition of NASCAR, speaks with the media during a press conference prior to practice at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2014.
Robin Pemberton, vice president for competition of NASCAR, speaks with the media during a press conference prior to practice at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2014.
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

NASCAR issued a new rule early Friday that bans its drivers from exiting a racecar during a race unless “extenuating emergency conditions exist with the racecar (i.e. fire, smoke in cockpit, etc.). The new rule comes less than a week after an on-track incident and a non-NASCAR sanctioned event at Canandiagua Motorsports Park in upstate New York. The incident involved three time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart and resulted in the death of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr.. The incident involved three time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart and resulted in the death of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr.. Ward exited his racecar after contact with Stewart the previous lap. Stewart’s car struck and killed Ward.

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development, said Friday the rule is “part of the evolution of NASCAR’s rules and regulations.”

“Throughout the history of our sport, NASCAR has reviewed and analyzed situations and occurrences that take place not just in NASCAR racing but also throughout all motorsports and other sports,” said Pemberton. “When we believe we can do something to make our sport safer and better for the competitors and others involved in the competition environment, we react quickly. Safety always has been priority number one at NASCAR.”

The rule, listed as Section 9-16, will be an addendum to the NASCAR rule book and will apply to all of its racing series, effective immediately:

Section 9-16 On-Track Incident Procedure

During an Event, if a racecar is involved in an on-track incident and/or is stopped on or near the racing surface and unable to continue to make forward progress, unless extenuating emergency conditions exist with the racecar (i.e. fire, smoke in cockpit, etc.) the driver should take the following steps:

• Shut off electrical power and, if driver is uninjured, lower window net

• Do not loosen, disconnect or remove any driver personal safety equipment until directed to do so by safety personnel or a NASCAR/Track Official

• After being directed to exit the racecar, the driver should proceed to either the ambulance, other vehicle, or as otherwise directed by safety personnel or a NASCAR/Track Official

• At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach any portion of the racing surface or apron

• At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach another moving vehicle

All vehicles not involved in the incident or that are able to continue afterwards should slow down to a cautious speed as outlined in Section 10-4 (Yellow Flag), use extreme care as they approach an incident scene, and follow any directions given by safety personnel or NASCAR/Track Officials. Cars in line behind the safety car should not weave or otherwise stray from the line in the vicinity of the incident.

Late Thursday the Stewart-Haas Racing team announced that Stewart will sit out this week’s race at Michigan International Raceway. Veteran driver Jeff Burton will race the No. 14 Chevy. The team said the driver change is only in effect for Michigan.