More format changes in the 60/60 Super Sprint races are starting to give the V8 Supercars Championship a closer resemblance to the United States’ NASCAR series format.
In a move that has been brought about to avoid a repeat of Craig Lowndes’ unfortunate scenario at Symmons Plains in early April, the series’ rulemakers have introduced the ‘Lucky Dog’ rule for the rest of the season, coming into effect for next weekend’s Chill Perth 360 at the Barbagallo Raceway.
The rule change means that any car that finishes the first 60km stint a single lap behind the leaders will be placed into the lead lap in the second leg of the race.
Drivers who finish multiple laps behind the leaders, however, will not be afforded the Lucky Dog luxury.
The change is a response to the position Championship contender Craig Lowndes was forced into in Tasmania, where due to an early tyre puncture and subsequent pit stop meant he was fighting a losing battle throughout the race’s two legs. Starting the second race leg a lap down left him with no choice but to turn the race into an extended test session for the Red Bull Racing Australia team.
This will be one of a few tweaks before the 60/60 Super Sprints this weekend; another one including fixing the break time at 15 minutes rather than the more open ended ‘minimum of 15 minutes’.
Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom was one of the drivers who thought that perhaps the break was a little too protracted.
“The break today was quite long so it allowed people to do changes, but I don’t think that’ll be the case every round, because it could be 15 minutes or it could be 21 or whatever it was today,” he said after the Symmons Plains 60/60 races.
“It gave people a bit more of an opportunity to change their car but these cars take quite a while to make changes.
“It’ll be interesting to see a shorter break if it will just remain the same, but obviously some people got a gain and others didn’t in that gap.”
Furthermore, the cars will remain in pit lane and be refueled on the pit apron, which will allow a little more of a spectacle.
There are five additional 60/60 Super Sprint events in the calendar, at Barbagallo, Hidden Valley, Queensland Raceway, Winton and Phillip Island.
Another aspect that is being changed in order to appeal to audiences (particularly Americans) and give them an insight into the importance of tyre strategy is the move to introduce tyre stops for each of the four 100km legs of the Austin 400 in May.
In a bid to spice up interest in next month’s race at the Circuit of the Americas, V8 Supercars driver James Courtney swapped mounts with NASCAR racer Kurt Busch: