While the various NASCAR teams run different models of cars – Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota – NASCAR tries to level the playing field amongst the teams whenever possible.
Last season the inspection process was the bane of every team with several driver teams requiring numerous trips through the inspection line before getting the go-ahead from NASCAR. On more than one occasion, drivers failed to make it through qualifying in time to make a qualifying run for the race and were forced to start from the back of the field.
Two big changes in the inspection process will be an elimination of the Laser and claw template stations and will replace them with a new scanning system that will create a 3-D image on a computer. The new inspection bay will also feature 17 cameras and eight projectors to aid in the process.
The new inspection system is expected to cut down on the amount of time required to inspect each car.
This season NASCAR will feature two inspection stations, one at the Monster Energy Cup Series garage and one at the Xfinity Series garage. NASCAR also has an inspection station at their Research and Development Center where they have allowed teams access to the new system to help them become familiar with the process.
Penalties for inspection infractions have included the docking of practice time. Last season NASCAR imposed the penalties at the beginning of practice time where the driver had to sit at the end of pit road in view of everyone at the track. This season NASCAR has changed the rules and will assess the penalties at the end of practice where the driver will take his car to the garage where it will covered.
Along with the changes on pit road and new inspection rules, another big change in the Monster Energy Cup Series this season is a new car model. Previously the Chevrolet teams have been running the SS; but beginning with the 2018 racing season, the Chevrolet teams will be running the Camaro ZLI.
NASCAR continues to work on driver safety with keeping the cars on the ground and away from getting airborne. Later in the season, NASCAR will also introduce high speed cameras to help with crash data.