NASCAR Drivers Must Elect Championships in '11
Drivers in NASCAR's three national series will have to elect a single championship to chase in 2011, eliminating the ability of drivers such as Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Paul Menard -- who were full-time double-dippers in 2010 -- to chase two championships at once.
NASCAR has scheduled a "competition update" on Jan. 21 with NASCAR president Mike Helton and vice president for competition Robin Pemberton as part of the "Preseason Thunder" Sprint Cup test session at Daytona International Speedway.
NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp declined to comment on the change in 2011 license applications Monday except to say, "I'm sure we can answer all your questions at our competition update."
Changes across the board in NASCAR -- including format changes in the Chase -- have been the subject of racing rumor mills since last fall.
But when Kenny Wallace picked up his 2011 NASCAR competition, membership and license application last Saturday while taking a break from a Grand-Am Rolex Series test at Daytona, he knew at least one rumor was true.
Wallace, who has 843 national series starts between the Cup (344), Nationwide (488) and Truck series (11), stopped on his way to the U.S. Post Office on Monday to tear open his license application and read the news.
"The brand-new license forms that are out, there's a box and in it, it states that you have to mark -- put an X -- what championship you're running for," Wallace said, quoting his application. "A driver will only be permitted to earn driver championship points in one (1) of the following three series: NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Please select the series in which you would like to accumulate driver championship points. Choose one."
That was no choice for Wallace, who is scheduled to do a full Nationwide schedule for owner Robby Benton in 2011.
"Of course I checked 'Nationwide,' " Wallace said. "These are changing times. So the details you'd be looking for are in section 17-3 of the rule book. [Last] Friday was the first day [they were available]."
Tharp confirmed that NASCAR would answer any questions about the three national series' championships next week, including whether the method of awarding drivers' championship points in each division's races would be covered in the respective series' rule books; if it would be covered in the respective series' race entry blanks; or in both places.
And also how "championship drivers" in each division would be differentiated in the respective race rundowns in respect to points awarded per position from "non-championship drivers," as well as whether or not the dispersal of points in each division's owners' championship, particularly in the Nationwide and Truck series, would be unaffected by owners' use of "non-championship drivers."
Wallace's comments came shortly after defending Nationwide Series champion Brad Keselowski complained on his Twitter account about eligibility rules changes for both the Budweiser Shootout and the three national touring series.
Although he backed off of the comment a day later, last Friday night Keselowski wrote on Twitter: "Needed a good laugh tonight after being ruled ineligible for both Shootout and NW championship in one loooong week. Thanks for the support!"
Keselowski declined further comment on the matter Saturday through spokesman David Hovis, who said the driver was battling the flu and needed to rest before heading to test at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida beginning Monday. But Keselowski did offer a subsequent update on Twitter, writing: "To clarify last nights [sic] remarks about NW championship, no I have not been notified by anyone at NASCAR about the 2011 rules for eligibility."
But another source said all NASCAR teams and competitors had been sent letters to the contrary.