2012 NASCAR Preview: Not Many Changes in Store for the Season

Melissa Bauer-Herzog@mbauerherzogCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2012

2012 NASCAR Preview: Not Many Changes in Store for the Season

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    In an offseason full of news, relief finally came in the form of the official NASCAR press conference on January 26. While there were some announcements made, most were expected and none were life shattering.

    So without farther ado, here are some main points that were talked about at this year's NASCAR preview.

    All quotes come from the Preview press conference.

Electronic Fuel Injection

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    The biggest change this year may be the introduction of electronic fuel injection. It has been something NASCAR has been working on for a while now and is the second fuel change in as many years.

    "[We] will continue to talk about our move to electronic fuel injection because it's the next important step in making the cars and the track more like the production cars the fans drive every day," NASCAR CEO Brian France said.

    Last year NASCAR brought biofuel and ethanol into the sport.

Driver to Driver Communication

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    Driver-to-driver communication will be eliminated this year at the request of several teams.

    "Several of the drivers and the teams came to us late last season and they asked us to do away with the driver-to-driver radio chatter.  So starting this season, we have eliminated the driver-to-driver radio communication.  Team-to-team communication, that will still continue as we've known it in the past," Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said.

    Driver-to-driver communication was mostly used at the Superspeedways where drivers used the communication while drafting.

Two Car Drafts

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    In addition to the driver-to-driver communication, two-car drafts won't be seen nearly as much. While there will be a few times during races where the draft will return, it won't be the mainstream of the race. This is a change that NASCAR feels is better for the fans.

    "We know that the fans want to see more of the traditional style pack drafting, and so do we.  We won't be able to totally eliminate the two-car push.  It will be a valuable tool that the teams will be able to use from time to time.  However, we do believe that we've come up with a rules package that will help it be the exception rather than the norm," Pemberton said.

    NASCAR had already taken steps last season to work towards eliminating long-term, two-car drafts.

2013 Cars

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    The 2013 cars are ready for the test stage and will be hitting the track during a closed test next month. They will have open tests later in the season for the cars to be previewed.

    "The first [private test] will be next month for our four manufacturers with their new race cars.  We will be having additional tests throughout the course of the season that will be open; however, the OEMs felt it was important for them to have this initial test in a closed environment, and we appreciate everybody's understanding and respect of that," Pemberton said.

    Ford unveiled their 2013 car earlier in the week, ushering in a new era.

Secret Fines

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    Secret fines have been eliminated, it was reveled at the preview. After the backlash that followed the news of them, this wasn't a huge surprise from a public relations standpoint. The secret fines raised questions of what else NASCAR was hiding from fans.

    "You can be critical of things you don't think we're doing well, in particular a race call.  You can say I don't think I was speeding; I disagree with that.  We understand that.  It's when you go after the integrity of the sport is where we will step in, and they will be public," France said.

Social Media

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    As has been the trend in the last few years with drivers, NASCAR will be taking more steps towards social media.

    "Obviously between digital and social media, it's the new medium to develop that deep relationship with our fans and communicate with them," France said.  "So we will be taking a very, very active role, already are, and not just us but the rest of the industry.  This is one of these things where the industry has come together on many things, but this is an important one where the industry is working togetherthe teams, the tracks, NASCAR and so onto formulate the right social media strategy, the right digital media strategy for the future."

    Many NASCAR personalities have already embraced the social media angle, becoming popular on the social media site Twitter.

No Change to Points or the Chase

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    After last year's renovation of the Chase and points, there will be no changes to get used to this year. NASCAR is leaving the points system as it is.

    "Well, the way to top [last season] is to have three drivers or four going for the championship if that's possible, too," France said.

    This comes on the heels of a highly successful and possibly the most entertaining Chase ever.

    Overall, while there were a lot of changes in the offseason with teams, NASCAR is having a pretty calm year when it comes to changes in the association.