Everything seems to require the use of an acronym these days. If you were ever in the military, you probably understand that more than anyone. NASCAR is the same way—acronyms for everything. It's just the way things are.
In NASCAR, DVP means Damaged Vehicle Policy. The DVP is basically a set of rules that determines the continued eligibility of a stock car once it's been damaged. NASCAR has a clearly defined policy so that cars that are damaged to a certain point or in a certain way can no longer be on the track.
The rule was a necessary one, especially considering how fast NASCAR vehicles are moving around the track. It doesn’t take much and a piece of debris that drops off of a damaged car endangers the entire field of drivers.
NASCAR dove headlong into a new DVP back in 2017, further updating it in later years as events dictated. The original DVP essentially eliminated damaged cars that could no longer perform to their maximum potential.
In the past, a stock car that was badly damaged and clearly could no longer compete, would still get patched up in the pit and spend the remainder of the race gimping around the race track, sometimes returning to the pit multiple times.
They end up finishing last, of course, but there was an incentive to finishing the race, especially if you were in the points battle running. The DVP put an end to all of that and has since been enhanced as more details came to light or more ideas bore fruit.
The entire point of the exercise is to eliminate an obvious safety hazard on the track that really has no reason to be there at all.
According to Scott Miller, NASCAR’s Senior VP of Competition, “We have a lot of cars that are going back on the track that ends up in 38th position, for instance, that probably don’t need to be out there from a safety and competition aspect.”
The Damaged Vehicle Policy, in its original form, had a few stipulations. It didn’t end up being an overly bloated, ridiculously overextended user manual on damaged vehicle safety like many expected it to be. Governing bodies are often guilty of doing such things.
The DVP is almost entirely based on safety. Of course, it's not just the driver’s safety that NASCAR is concerned with either but the safety of the crews and the safety of the EMT response teams that have to come out onto the track in the event of an accident.
Not only that, but according to the aforementioned Scott Miller, it’s a safety matter in terms of trying to get some of the damages repaired in the garage as well. NASCAR is trying to keep crew members safe from having to scramble around in the pit as well, especially when there is a lot of debris everywhere when some of the cars are able to limp into the pit.
With the new policy in place, NASCAR is going to award a single point to any driver who finishes 36 or further back in the pack. Even a last-place finish will still be enough to merit a single point.
Some of the additional enhancements to the rule include a speeding penalty in pit lane. When the rule was first instituted, with a five-minute time limit to effectuate the limited type of repairs the new policy restricted them to, the drivers were speeding into the pit, knowing they only had five minutes.
The new enhancements to the original policy include a 15-second penalty for any driver that exceeds the speed limit in the pit, even if it isn’t a scheduled stop and is simply a driver coming in for repairs after an accident.
The new rule is also designed to eliminate repairs that sometimes took place on the track. For instance, a team may run out onto the track in the event of a wreck, with panels and other parts to quickly throw on. That is no longer necessary.
During the five-minute repairs, the crews are also limited on the number of people allowed to work on the car. This includes an allowance for one or two members to actually go under the car once it's lifted.
One thing is for certain, it has certainly reduced the amount of confusion and craziness that goes on in the aftermath of an accident out on the track. Now that damage from a blown tire is considered to be “crash” damage, rather than “mechanical failure,” it can be fixed in the pit, not in the garage.
NASCAR is effectively working to not only reduce the safety hazards that occur in the aftermath of a crash but also reduce the chaos and longevity of the crash’s aftermath as well. Thus far, it would seem that it has largely been successful in achieving that.
Stock cars are cruising around some of these tracks in excess of 175mph, so even a minor wreck can affect multiple cars, endanger the safety of multiple people, and take a long time to deal with. With the new policy, much of all of the above has been reduced.
NASCAR’s Damaged Vehicle Policy is not one of those “good intentions” policies that end up making everything a whole lot worse. So far, it's proving to be an effective policy and if it keeps the drivers, crew members, and EMTs safer, then it is definitely worthwhile.