One tweak to the NASCAR rules regarding backup cars can make a huge difference to the starting grids of 2018 races beginning with Daytona. According to ESPN’s Bob Pockrass, any team that has to use a backup car during the race weekend will start from the back in the race. The current rules allow for a driver to keep his or her place as long as the car used for qualifying is the same as the one used in the race.
This change means that, unlike under the current rules, a car that is crashed or experiences an engine failure in practice will send the driver to the back of the pack regardless of qualifying. In Daytona especially, this is a big deal. Not only does the car have to survive practice and qualifying, but also has the Can-Am duel to contend with before the headlining Daytona 500.
Another change to the rules is that no backup car can come to the track with a pre-installed engine. What this effectively changes is teams having three engines to use over a race weekend. Currently, a team can have two cars with installed engines plus a spare engine in the hauler. The new changes mean only one installed engine and one backup.
The moves will cut costs for teams but will also make practice crashes a much bigger deal than in the past.