DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. NASCAR said it plans to use hand signals in the same manner as football, basketball and hockey referees for some of the common violations on pit road.
The signals will replace the use of a two-way radio. NASCAR officials on pit road used to report violations such as pitting out of the pit box, noncompliant refueling, too many crew members over the wall, crew members over the wall too soon and improperly removing or forgetting equipment on pit road to officials in the tower.
Those officials then relayed the punishment, usually a time-out from 15 seconds to a full lap, to officials on pit road, who then impose the sanctions against the team.
Officials on pit road now can step in front of the car and make a signal that also comes with an automatic penalty.
''The idea is to utilize the hand signals to convey quicker what is going on on pit road,'' said NASCAR president Mike Helton.
NASCAR also said it would increase the size of the gas filler cans by one gallon to 12; ignition boxes now have to be mounted on top of the dash, instead of underneath it; and the number of templates of the Nextel Cup and Busch series will remain at 32, while the Craftsman Truck Series will increase from 24 to 28.
SUPER INTEREST: Charlotte, N.C., is best known for being the home base to stock car racing, but even the racing community was swept into the hysteria for the Carolina Panthers.
While some in town are upset with being portrayed as ''grits-eating, NASCAR-loving people,'' Lowe's Motor Speedway president H.A. ''Humpy'' Wheeler said that's not all bad.
''Frankly, is there anything better than properly peppered and salted grits with red-eye gravy and a little country butter?'' Wheeler said as the Panthers prepared for Sunday's Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.
''As far as NASCAR, it has entertained millions of us. NASCAR racing has kept us from boring Sunday visits; swimming in the muddy Catawba, pretending Crowder's Mountain is Mt. Rushmore; watching planes take off at Charlotte-Douglas; and sitting on the banks of I-85 waiting for the newest BMWs to go by.
''Come on, it's Super Bowl weekend. Lighten up. Charlotte has a decent image, even if it isn't spectacular.''
PIT STOPS: The Porsche Fabcar that will include Kyle Petty and actor Paul Newman as drivers for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona landed a sponsorship from Disney/Pixar's Cars movie.
Reach Don Coble at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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