In 2017 NASCAR introduced tHe “crash clock” – also known as the damaged vehicle policy where crews are allowed to make minimal repairs to the cars – primarily using the “200 mile an hour tape” to secure required parts to the car. When the rule was instituted, crews were given just five minutes for the driver to come down pit road, make repairs, and get back out on the track to make minimum speed or be declared out of the race. Once a car goes to the garage after a crash, they are out of the race. Crews may take a car to the garage only to address mechanical issues.
The rule was instituted after NASCAR determined that more often than not, cars taken to the garage for crash repairs seldom faired any better and frequently were the reason for further cautions in the form of dropping debris on the track or causing another crash.
In 2018, NASCAR increased the time for repairs from fix minutes to six minutes.
Beginning this week with the first playoff race for the Cup Series at Darlington Raceway, the “crash clock” has been increased to a full 10 minutes. NASCAR officials noted that over the course of the regular season, the time needed for ,along repairs to the new Next Gen car required more time than previous versions of the car.
The policy of erasing the “crash clock” once a team has made repairs before the clock runs out and the driver makes minimum speed on the track will continue. Once the “crash clock” and the driver has reached minimum speed, crews may continue to work on the car’s crash damage.