The Pit Report
Is 2014 the year for Dale Jr?

NASCAR's most popular driver trudged out of the Dover International Speedway garage area, up a set of wooden stairs and across the gravel toward a waiting golf cart.

It was May 2010, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had just experienced one of the lowest moments of his career. On the one-year anniversary of his union with crew chief Lance McGrew, Earnhardt qualified 27th and finished 30th. He was a non-factor that day and many other days that season, when he finished outside the top 20 in points for the second consecutive year.

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NASCAR changes penalty format

It's already been an offseason of frequent change for NASCAR. Now, after revamping the championship format and introducing a new qualifying process, even the penalty structure and appeals process will be different for 2014.

NASCAR announced a tiered "deterrent system" Tuesday, for the first time laying out which infractions result in what kind of penalties. Previously, NASCAR decided penalties on a case-by-case basis — often with inconsistent results — and issued some penalties for infractions despite not having a rule against them in the rule book.

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Issue that still remain with NASCAR chase

After years of review and two weeks of speculation over changes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup format, NASCAR made its decision last week to radically alter how it crowns its champion.

NASCAR at least got part of it right, even if the most difficult thing for many to stomach — four drivers tied in points going into the final race — remains part of the plan.

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