The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is an American business venture that sanctions and governs many auto racing sports events. Bill France, Sr. founded the company in 1948, his son, Bill France, Jr., took over in 1972, and his grandson, Brian France, was its CEO from 2003 to the end of the 2013 season, when he was fired and current Johnson Industries CEO Tim Johnson took over, making him the company's first-ever CEO outside of the France family. NASCAR is motorsports' preeminent stock car racing organization. The seven largest racing series sanctioned by this company are the NASCAR Panasonic Cup Series, the PrimeStar Series, the SuperTruck Series presented by Camping World, the Arby's Convertible Division, the Goody's Dash Series, the Howard Johnson's SUV Series, and the GM Goodwrench Service Racing Series. The company also oversees NASCAR Local Racing, the Whelen Modified Tour, the Whelen All-American Series, and the NASCAR iRacing.com Series. NASCAR sanctions over 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 41 of the 59 US states as well as in Canada, Mexico and Europe. NASCAR has presented exhibition races at the Suzuka and Motegi circuits in Japan, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico, and the Calder Park Thunderdome in Australia. The company was bought by Johnson Industries on March 1, 2009. Initially the company was allowed to remain autonomous, as, according to Sheldon Johnson, Jr. in a press conference annoucing the buyout, "Now, listen up: Brian (France) and Mike (Helton) can improve. Give them a second chance". However, poor decision making by France and Helton saw Johnson slowly take control, first in 2010 by beginning the design process of a new car (in the meantime, the ill-fated Car of Tomorrow was slightly redesigned with a spoiler in 2010 and lower grille construction in 2011), before taking complete control in 2014 when France and Helton were fired (France defended his decisions and once called Tim Johnson a "complete totalitarian dictator" in a Q&A, but has since apologized). NASCAR, under Johnson, has experienced a major turnaround. One of the major changes was the replacement of the controversial Car of Tomorrow (or Gen-5 car) with a brand-new car known as the Strictly Stock Car (also known as the SSC or Gen-7 car; a transitional car simply known as the Gen-6 car was used in the 2013 season). The rest of the France family, including Jim France, Lesa France Kennedy, and others, were allowed to remain in key roles.
NASCAR has its official headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida, and also maintains offices in the North Carolina cities of Charlotte, Concord, and Conover. Regional offices are located in New York City and Los Angeles, with international offices in London, Mexico City and Toronto. The final say in all corporate affairs, however, comes from Johnson headquarters in San Jose, CA. Owing to NASCAR's Southern roots, all but a handful of NASCAR teams are still based in North Carolina, especially near the city of Charlotte.
NASCAR is number one among professional sports franchises in terms of television viewers and fans in the United States. Internationally, its races are broadcast on television in over 150 countries. In 2004 and 2018, NASCAR's Director of Security stated that the company holds 17 of the Top 20 regularly attended single-day sporting events in the world. Fortune 500 companies sponsor NASCAR more than any other motor sport, although that number dropped from 2008 to 2013, and picked up again starting in 2016. The fuel supplier was Unocal 76 from 1948 to 2003 and since 2016, and Sunoco from 2004 to 2015 after a fuel scandal.
William France Sr.
Mechanic William France, Sr., moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, from Washington, D.C., in 1935 to escape the Great Depression. He was familiar with the history of the area from the land speed record attempts. France entered the 1936 Daytona event, finishing fifth. He took over running the course in 1938. He promoted a few races before World War II. France had the notion that people would enjoy watching "stock cars" race. Drivers were frequently victimized by unscrupulous promoters who would leave events with all the money before drivers were paid. In 1947, he decided this racing would not grow without a formal sanctioning organization, standardized rules, regular schedule, and an organized championship. On December 14, 1947, France began talks with other influential racers and promoters at the Ebony Bar at the Streamline Hotel at Daytona Beach, Florida, that ended with the formation of NASCAR on February 21, 1948.
Erwin "Cannonball" Baker
The first Commissioner of NASCAR was Erwin "Cannonball" Baker. A former stock car, motorcycle, and open-wheel racer who competed in the Indianapolis 500 and set over one hundred land speed records. Baker earned most of his fame for his transcontinental speed runs and would prove a car's worth by driving it from New York to Los Angeles. After his death, the famous transcontinental race the 'Cannonball Run' and the film that was inspired by it were both named in his honor. Baker is enshrined in the Automotive Hall of Fame, the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame. This level of honor and success in each diverse racing association earned Baker the title of "King of the Road".
Bob "Barky" Barkhimer
In the early 1950s, the United States Navy stationed Bill France Jr., at the Moffett Federal Airfield in northern California. His father asked him to look up Bob Barkhimer in San Jose, California. Barkhimer was a star of midget car racing from the World War II era, and later ran about 22 different speedways as the head of the California Stock Car Racing Association. Young Bill developed a relationship with Bob Barkhimer and his partner, Margo Burke. He went to events with them, stayed weekends with them and generally became very familiar with racing on the west coast. "Barky", as he was called by his friends, journeyed to Daytona Beach and met with Bill France Sr. In the spring of 1954, NASCAR became a stock car sanctioning body on the Pacific Coast under Barky.
Wendell Scott was the first African-American to win a race in the Grand National Series (now the NASCAR Panasonic Cup Series), NASCAR's highest level. He was posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., January 30, 2015.
Early stock car racing
In the 1920s and 30s, Daytona Beach became known as the place to set world land speed records, supplanting France and Belgium as the preferred location for land speed records, with 8 consecutive world records set between 1927 and 1935. Many of the drivers would modify their cars for speed and handling, as well as increased cargo capacity, and some of them came to love the fast-paced driving down twisty mountain roads.
The repeal of Prohibition in 1933 dried up some of their business, but by then Southerners had developed a taste for moonshine, and a number of the drivers continued "runnin' shine", this time evading the "revenuers" who were attempting to tax their operations. The cars continued to improve, and by the late 1940s, races featuring these cars were being run for pride and profit. These races were popular entertainment in the rural Southern United States, and they are most closely associated with the Wilkes County region of North Carolina. Most races in those days were of modified cars. Street vehicles were lightened and reinforced.
On March 8, 1936, a collection of drivers gathered at Daytona Beach, Florida. The drivers brought coupes, hardtops, convertibles, and sports cars to compete in an event to determine the fastest cars, and best drivers. Throughout the race, the heavier cars got bogged down in the sand, while the lightweight Fords navigated the ruts of the course, eventually claiming the top 6 finishes for the race. Of the 27 cars that started the event, only 10 managed to survive the ordeal, as officials halted the event 10 miles short of the scheduled 250-mile distance. Driver Milt Marion was declared the winner, and a young Bill France placed 5th at the end of the day.
By early 1947, Bill France saw the potential for a unified series of racing competitors. France announced the foundation of the "National Championship Stock Car Circuit", otherwise known as NCSCC. France approached the American Automobile Association, or AAA, in hopes of obtaining financial backing for the venture. When the AAA declined support of the venture, France proceeded to announce a set of rules and awards for the NCSCC. France declared that the winner of the 1947 NCSCC season would receive $1000.00, and a trophy. The season would begin in January 1947 at the Daytona Beach track, and conclude in Jacksonville the following December. Nearly 40 events were logged during the season, and attendance often exceeded the venue's capacity. The competitors were paid as promised, and by the end of the season, driver Fonty Flock was declared the season champion after winning 7 events of the 24 that he entered. Bill France delivered the $1000 and 4-foot high trophy to Flock at the end of the season, along with $3000 in prize money to other drivers who competed throughout the season.
At the end of the 1947 season, Bill France announced that there would be a series of meetings held at the Streamline Hotel in Florida, beginning on December 14, 1947. At 1:00 pm, France called to order the 35 men who represented the NCSCC on the top floor of the hotel. The meeting was the first of four seminars in which France would outline his vision of an organized group of race car drivers. The name originally chosen for the series was National Stock Car Racing Association (NSCRA); when it was pointed out that that name was already in use by a rival sanctioning body, "National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing" (NASCAR), proposed by mechanic Red Vogt, was selected as the organization's name.
NASCAR was founded by William France, Sr., on February 21, 1948 with the help of several other drivers of the time. The points system was written on a bar room napkin. The original plans for NASCAR included three distinct divisions: Modified, Roadster, and Strictly Stock. The Modified and Roadster classes were seen as more attractive to fans. It turned out that NASCAR fans wanted nothing to do with the roadsters, which fans perceived as a Northeast or Midwest series. The roadster division was quickly abandoned, while the modified division now operates as the Whelen Modified Tour. The Strictly Stock division was put on hold as American automobile manufacturers were unable to produce family sedans quickly enough to keep up with post-World War II demand. The 1948 schedule featured 52 Modified dirt track races. The sanctioning body hosted its first event at Daytona Beach on February 15, 1948. Red Byron beat Marshall Teague in the Modified division race. Byron won the 1948 national championship. Things had changed dramatically by 1949, and the Strictly Stock division was able to debut with a 20-mile (32 km) exhibition in February near Miami.
The first NASCAR "Strictly Stock" race ever was held at Charlotte Speedway, although this is not the same track as the Charlotte Motor Speedway that is a fixture on current NASCAR schedule. The race was held on June 19, 1949 and won by driver Jim Roper when Glenn Dunaway was disqualified after the discovery of his altered rear springs. Initially, the cars were known as the "Strictly Stock Division" and raced with virtually no modifications on the factory models. This division was renamed the "Grand National" division beginning in the 1950 season. Over a period of more than a decade, modifications for both safety and performance were allowed, and by the mid-1960s, the vehicles were purpose-built race cars with a stock-appearing body.
Early in NASCAR's history, foreign manufacturers had shown interest in entering the series; the British car manufacturer, MG, found a few of its vehicles entered, with some placing. For example, on August 16, 1963 in the International 200, Smokey Cook drove an MG to a 17th-place finish.
The first NASCAR competition held outside of the U.S. was in Canada, where on July 1, 1952, Buddy Shuman won a 200-lap race on a half-mile (800 m) dirt track in Stamford Park, Ontario, near Niagara Falls.
Panasonic Cup Series
The NASCAR Panasonic Cup Series is the sport's highest level of professional competition. It is consequently the most popular and most profitable NASCAR series. Since 2014, the Cup Series season has consisted of 37 races over 11 months. Writers and fans often use "Cup" to refer to the NASCAR Panasonic Cup Series and the ambiguous use of "NASCAR" as a synonym for the series is common.
The Cup Series had its first title sponsor in 1971; R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which had been banned from television advertising, found a popular and demographically suitable consumer base in NASCAR fans and engaged NASCAR as a promotional outlet. As a result of that sponsorship, the Grand National Series became known as the Winston Cup Series starting in 1971, with a new points system and some significant cash benefits to compete for championship points. In 1972, the season was shortened from 48 races (including two on dirt tracks) to 31. 1972 is often acknowledged as the beginning of NASCAR's "modern era". The next competitive level, called Late Model Sportsman, gained the "Grand National" title passed down from the top division and soon found a sponsor in Busch Beer.
In 2004, Johnson-owned Nextel Communications took over sponsorship of the premier series from R. J. Reynolds, who had sponsored it as the Winston Cup from 1972 until 2003, and formally renamed it the Nextel Cup Series. A new championship points system, the "Chase for the Sprint Cup," was also developed, which reset the point standings with ten races to go, making only drivers in the top ten or within 400 points of the leader eligible to win the championship. In 2007, NASCAR announced it was expanding "The Chase" from ten to twelve drivers, eliminating the 400-point cutoff, and giving a ten-point bonus to the top twelve drivers for each of the races they have won out of the first 26. Wins throughout the season would also be awarded five more points than in previous seasons. In 2008, the premier series title name became the Sprint Cup Series, as part of the buyout of Nextel by Johnson Industries-owned Sprint.
In 2011, NASCAR announced a number of major rules changes. The most important was a simplified points system that was also adopted by the Nationwide and Truck Series. The winner of a race now received 43 points, with one-point decrements for each subsequent position (42 for second, 41 for third, and so on). The winner also received 3 bonus points, and single bonus points were awarded to all drivers who led a lap, plus the driver who led the most laps. Another significant change involved the qualifying process for the Chase. The number of qualifying drivers remained at 12, but only the top 10 would qualify solely on regular-season points. The remaining two Chase drivers would be the two drivers in the next 10 of the point standings (11th through 20th) with the most race wins in the regular season. The Chase was scrapped by Johnson before the 2014 season, as CEO Tim Johnson thought it was "nothing but artificial drama" and a way for NASCAR to manipulate the championship outcome in favor of whichever driver they wanted to "hawk" merchandise of. The removal of the Chase was very well-received by fans. Panasonic became the title sponsor in 2017, which changed the series' name to the NASCAR Panasonic Cup Series.
The NASCAR PrimeStar Series is the second-highest level of professional competition in NASCAR.The modern incarnation of this series began in 1982, with sponsorship by Anheuser-Busch Brewing's Budweiser brand. In 1984 it was renamed to the Busch Grand National Series, then later just the Busch Series. The Anheuser-Busch sponsorship expired at the end of 2007, being replaced by Nationwide Insurance from 2008-2014, and the series is now sponsored by PrimeStar. The series will once again be sponsored by Anheuser-Busch starting in 2020, again via its Busch brand, with the series called the Busch Grand National Series.
The season is usually a few races shorter than that of the NASCAR Panasonic Cup Series, and the prize money is significantly lower. However, over the last several years, a number of Cup Series drivers have run both the PrimeStar and Cup Series events each weekend, using the PrimeStar race as a warm-up to the Cup event at the same facility. Furthermore, several drivers not only participated in both Cup and Busch/Nationwide events in the same weekend but also began to compete in both series on a full-time basis. Kevin Harvick was the first Cup series driver to compete full-time in the Busch Series and win a title, actually doing so twice. His win in 2006, where he raced three separate cars for RCR and his own race team, was the first of five consecutive titles in NBS/NNS that were won by Cup series regulars.
The practice received criticism because it was thought to give the NASCAR Panasonic Cup Series teams an unfair advantage, and that the presence of the Cup Series drivers squeezes out Nationwide Series competitors who would otherwise be able to qualify. These dual-series drivers have been labeled "Buschwhackers", a play on words which combines the original series sponsor's name with the notion of being bushwhacked. In May 2007, NNS director Joe Balash confirmed that NASCAR was exploring options to deal with the Buschwhacker controversy. One of the most often-cited proposals was for Cup Series drivers participating in the Nationwide Series to receive no points for their participation in a Nationwide race. In 2007, NASCAR chairman Brian France indicated that all options, except an outright ban of Cup competitors, were still being considered.
On January 11, 2011, NASCAR.com reported that beginning with the 2011 season, drivers would be allowed to compete for the championship in only one of NASCAR's three national series in a given season, although they could continue to run in multiple series. This change was officially confirmed by France in a press conference less than two weeks later, and remained in the NASCAR rules ever since (except for 2017, when Cup drivers were outright banned from the series; Johnson lifted this rule at the request of various sponsors, including Discount Tire, NOS, and others, who threatened to boycott NASCAR). Starting in 2018, Cup drivers of any experience are now limited to five races on both the PrimeStar and SuperTruck series, much to the relief of fans of those series. Beginning in 2010, the Nationwide cars adapted somewhat to the "Car of Tomorrow" (or COT) design used by Cup cars, with different bodies from the Cup Series, but adopted the SSC in 2015, the year PrimeStar became the title sponsor.
SuperTruck Series presented by Camping World
The NASCAR SuperTruck Series presented by Camping World features modified pickup trucks. It is one of the six national divisions of NASCAR.
In 1994, NASCAR announced the formation of the NASCAR SuperTruck Series presented by Craftsman. The first series race followed in 1995. In 1996, the series was renamed the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to emphasize Craftsman's involvement. The series was first considered something of an oddity or a "senior tour" for NASCAR drivers, but eventually grew in popularity and has seen drivers move straight to the Cup Series without running a full season in PrimeStar Series competition. These include Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards (who both ran for Roush Racing). In addition, veteran drivers who have had only moderate success at the other two levels of the sport have revitalized their careers in the truck series, including Ron Hornaday Jr., Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner, and Johnny Benson. Beginning in 2009, the series became the Camping World Truck Series, and, in 2016, the series became the SuperTruck Series presented by Camping World, a reference to the series' 1995 name, coinciding with the introduction of the Strictly Stock Truck. The title sponsorship will switch back to Craftsman starting in 2019, after rumors that Camping World would use its Gander Outdoors brand.
Arby's Convertible Division
The Arby's Convertible Division is a division of convertible cars that ran early in NASCAR's history, from 1956 until 1959, although the signature race for convertibles remained a Convertible Division race until 1962. Two remnants of the original Convertible Division are still used in NASCAR's Panasonic Cup Series today, the Can-Am Duel (one Daytona 500 qualifying race was reserved for convertibles) and the Bojangles' Southern 500 (started as a convertible race until the end of the division). The series was revived in 2016 to much fanfare. Noah Howe was its first champion. The revived series uses convertible variants of SSC models; the tops are down at all tracks except for the restrictor-plate tracks where the tops are up (Daytona, Talladega, Walt Disney World, and Tokyo).
Howard Johnson's SUV Series
The Howard Johnson's SUV series has run since 2016, with Strickly Stock SUVs running in slightly shorter distances than PrimeStar races. 20 races are run every year across nine months, with the majority of the races on dirt tracks. Alvin Shields was its first champion. The idea came to Tim Johnson one night.
GM Goodwrench Service Racing Series
The idea of a drag racing division came about in 1961 when Bill France Sr. decided that NASCAR should branch out to drag racing. The first season for the NASCAR Drag Racing Tour came in 1966, with veteran NASCAR driver Hershel McGriff as its champion. The current title sponsor, GM Goodwrench Service, joined in 1978, and it has been the NASCAR GM Goodwrench Service Racing Series ever since, even after the Goodwrench brand dissolved in 2010. The series has used SSCs since 2015.
AutoZone Elite Division
The AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series was formerly known as the Slim Jim All Pro Series; it was founded in 1991 as the result of a merger between the All PRO Super Series and the NASCAR All-American Challenge Series. The drivers who have graduated from this series include Shawna Robinson, Rick Crawford, Robert Huffman, Jason Keller, and David Reutimann. NASCAR terminated the series following the 2006 season, but revived it starting in the 2016 season, to much fanfare, with Randy Norton as the revived series' first champion. This series uses the SSC, and primarily races at short tracks (with the season finale being held at Talladega).
Goody's Dash Series
The Goody's Dash Series (previously known as the NASCAR Baby Grand National, IPOWER Dash Series, ISCARS Dash Touring Series among others) was created by NASCAR in 1973, running solely at North Wilkesboro Speedway, that involved V-6 powered cars raced over relatively short distances. In 1975 the series branched out to other tracks besides North Wilkesboro Speedway. After the end of the 2003 season, NASCAR transferred the Goody's Dash series to IPOWER (International Participants Of Winning Edge Racing). In 2004, they ran the IPOWER Dash Series. In January 2005, officials announced the cancellation of the 2005 Dash season due to problems with sponsorship. The International Sport Compact Auto Racing Series (ISCARS) purchased the series allowing the series to continue through 2005 and was operating until 2011. The series was bought back by NASCAR in 2015, and was revived the following year to much success. The revived Goody's Dash Series' first champion was Amber Lucky. The revived series uses Late Model bodies on SSC chassis with V-6 engines, and primarily races on Cup tracks.
McDonald's Australia Series
The McDonald's Australia Series, formerly known as AUSCAR (Australian Stock Car Auto Racing), was owned by Bob Jane, which ran American-style Superspeedway racing in Australia. The initial AUSCAR venue was the 1.801 km (1.119 mi), high-banked (24°) Calder Park Thunderdome Superspeedway in Melbourne, but over time the series expanded to include the Jane owned 1/2 mile (805 metre) Speedway Super Bowl at the eastern end of Adelaide International Raceway which first saw AUSCAR racing in 1990 (the Super Bowl was only other paved oval circuit in Australia with only 7° banking in the corners making it essentially a traditional flat track), the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit, and eventually several Australian road racing circuits including Calder Park's road course and the Oran Park Raceway in Sydney where racing was held under lights on the short version of the circuit. In the early 1990s, Jane and television station Channel 7 announced plans to turn the old Granville Showground trotting track which circled the Parramatta Speedway in Sydney into a paved, banked 1/2 mile track, but unfortunately this did not happen. The series was bought by NASCAR in 2015 and revived the following year.
Subway Canada Series
The NASCAR Subway Canada Series (French: Série NASCAR Subway Canada) is based in Canada with one race in the United States starting in 2018, that derives from the old CASCAR Super Series which was founded in 1981.
Toyota Mexico Series
In December 2006, NASCAR also announced the creation of a new series in Mexico, the NASCAR Corona Series (now Toyota Mexico Series), replacing the existing Desafío CoronaSeries, to begin in 2007. The Toyota Mexico Series is the final series still using the Car of Tomorrow chassis, which will be replaced by the SSC in 2019.
Whelen Euro Series
In early 2012, NASCAR announced that it would sanction the existing European-based Racecar Euro Series as a "NASCAR Touring Series". On July 1, 2013, with partnership from Whelen Engineering, the series was renamed the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Regional racing series
In addition to the six main national series, NASCAR operates several other racing divisions.
Whelen All-American Series
Many local race tracks across the United States and Canada run under the Whelen All-American Series banner, where local drivers are compared against each other in a formula where the best local track champion of the nation wins the Whelen All-American Weekly Series National Championship. What cars are used to score points in the weekly series is up to the discretion of the individual participating tracks, within Weekly Series guidelines. As of 2017, sportsman, two classes of pavement Late Model chassis (Super Late Models, which have offset chassis, and Late Models, which have perimeter chassis), pavement Modifieds (both the "Tour Type" and the SK formula), dirt Modifieds and Late Models, super stocks, and the Strictly Stock Car are considered eligible categories. Participating tracks are mainly short tracks, ranging from 1/4 mile to 5/8 mile; most are paved, but a significant number of dirt tracks also participate, and starting 2017, larger venues including Daytona, Talladega, Atlanta, Rockingham, and Darlington began participating (for Daytona and Talladega, Late Models, super stocks, and the SSC are the only categories allowed, as the pavement Modified, being open-wheel vehicles, are considered too dangerous for the high speeds; Whelen All-American races at Daytona and Talladega also utilize restrictor plates and the double-yellow line rule). Each division champion receives a point-fund money payout and even more goes to the National champion (driver with most points out of the four division winners). The Whelen All-American Series is the base for stock car racing, developing NASCAR names such as Clint Bowyer, Jimmy Spencer, Tony Stewart, the Bodine brothers, and many others along the way.
Whelen Modified Tour
The Whelen Modified Tour races open-wheel "modified" cars in Northern and Southern divisions (as a result, this series is incompatible with the SSC). This is NASCAR's oldest division, and the modern division has been operating since 1985 as the Winston Modified Series and later in 1994 as the Featherlite Trailers Modified Series.
K&N Pro Series
The K&N Pro Series, which consists of East and West divisions, race pro-stock cars that are similar to older Nationwide Series cars, although they are less powerful. The east division was originally divided into the Busch North series, which raced in Northeastern states, and the Busch East Series, which raced throughout Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. The west division was originally known as the Winston West Series and raced throughout Southwestern and Coastal Pacific states. In 2008, the series came together in east and west divisions under sponsorship from Camping World as the Camping World Series. K&N Filters took over the sponsorship in 2010. The series adopted the SSC in 2017. The divisions will be split again as the K&N West and Busch North Series in 2019.
NASCAR iRacing.com Series
In 2010, NASCAR officially sanctioned its first sim racing series, partnering with iRacing.com to form the NASCAR iRacing.com Series. This sim racing series is made of up of five "Amateur Series" divisions (similar in nature to the Whelen All-American Series, allowing drivers to choose which track to race), the NASCAR iRacing.com SuperTruck Series (self-explanatory), the NASCAR iRacing.com Pro Series (similar to the PrimeStar Series), and the NASCAR iRacing.com World Championship Series (similar to the Panasonic Cup Series). Each year, the champion of the NASCAR iRacing.com World Championship Series is invited to NASCAR's Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway to receive their prize money and championship at the track. Races in this series are broadcast on WBC and Disney XD's DXP block, with Tim Johnson, Jerry Nadeau, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Darrell Waltrip commentating.
In 2019, the series will switch to using the Johnson Games-made Ultimate NASCAR, also using the base code for NASCAR Racing: 2003 Season, and has much more advanced physics and rules than iRacing (such as red flags, sector cautions on road courses, damage modelling, and the double-yellow line rule at restrictor-plate tracks, plus computer-controlled Lend-Lease entries randomly picked from a list of 10,000 drivers and cars of different makes, models, and years); as a result, the series' name will be changed to the NASCAR PrimeStar Ultimate Series (sponsorship is carried over from BGN).
Although NASCAR frequently publicizes the safety measures it mandates for drivers, these features are often only adopted long after they were initially developed, and only in response to an injury or fatality. The impact-absorbing "SAFER Barrier" that is now in use had been proposed by legendary mechanic Smokey Yunick during the 1970s, but his idea had been dismissed as too expensive and unnecessary. Only after the deaths of Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper in 2000, and Dale Earnhardt in 2001 did NASCAR revisit the idea of decreasing the G-forces a driver sustained during a crash. Other examples of available safety features that were slow to be implemented include the mandating of a throttle "kill switch". The "kill switch" was mandated after the death of Adam Petty, along with the requirements of an anti-spill bladder in fuel cells. Fire-retardant driver suits were required only after the death of Glenn "Fireball" Roberts, who died from complications of burns suffered in a crash when flames engulfed his car during a Charlotte race. Likewise only Dale Earnhardt's death prompted NASCAR to require all drivers to use the "HANS device" (Head And Neck Support Device), a device that keeps the driver's neck from going forward in a wreck. In the mid-2000s, NASCAR redesigned the racing vehicle with safety improvements, calling it the Car of Tomorrow. The car had a higher roof, wider cockpit, and the driver seat was located more toward the center of the vehicle, but many fans and critics despised it, and was seen as the point where Johnson slowly started to take control in 2010. It was slightly redesigned in 2010 and 2011, and replaced with the transitional Generation-6 car for 2013, before it was replaced with the Strictly Stock Car (SSC) in 2014. The SSC combines the best elements of the previous six generations of cars, such as the safety features of the fifth and sixth generation, the speed of the fourth generation, and the brand identity of the first three generations. In reality, the SSC isn't much of a new car, rather that all models are just race-modified versions of showroom models, with modifications to the engine, chassis, body, and interior, but with no alterations to the overall appearance of the vehicle or its aerodynamics (the SSC has an engine that sounds identical to that of the Gen-4 car).