DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, takes the checkered flag ahead of Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

NASCAR's new damaged vehicle policy is a bigger deal than it seems


NASCAR has made changes to its damaged car policy that will have its biggest impact at tracks like Daytona and Talladega. Teams can no longer replace body panels in the garage and return to the race. While mechanical repairs can still be made in the garage, body repairs are limited to basic work that can be done on pit road. These new rules mean that a big wreck at the beginning of a race could take any number of racers out of the race with no chance to return. With the new three stage race format and point system, missing a race means losing three opportunities for precious points. While the three stage format promised more aggressive racing, the risk of missing an entire race due to a crash is now higher and could mean a more conservative approach to the beginning two stages of the race.

Related: NASCAR Will be Unrecognizable This Year After These Rule Changes