NASCAR will look at new ways to enforce a policy change involving lug nuts during pit stops.
Responding to recent driver criticism, senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said Friday at Richmond International Raceway that the sanctioning body will look at “possibly different ways to enforce pit rules.”
Miller was referring to a 2015 NASCAR policy that doesn’t require teams to replace all five lug nuts during pit stops. Some drivers – including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart – have expressed concerns about the safety of the policy, worried that tires could come loose or even fall off if all five lug nuts are not replaced.
“On the specific issue of lug nuts that’s been brought forth this week, we’ve had the same rules on lug nuts for the past two seasons, and the rules have been pretty clear, and we’ve really never had – until this point, never really had too much trouble,” Miller said. “But obviously there’s been strong rules in place, pretty severe penalties associated with the rules that are in place. But since the drivers are now questioning it, it’s time for us to kind of re-evaluate our position and work with the community on looking at it possibly different ways to enforce the pit road rules.”
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NASCAR rules state that:
▪ All tires and wheels must be installed in a safe and secure manner at all times during the event.
▪ NASCAR reserves the right at any time to require any competitor to report to pit road for inspection in the event of any noncompliance.
The penalty for a wheel coming off is a minimum four-race suspension for the team’s crew chief, tire carrier and tire changer.
The problem that has arisen, however, is that under a technological monitoring system on pit road that was put into place in 2015, there are far fewer officials to spot infractions.
Without the oversight, some teams have used fewer than five lug nuts to get out of the pits more quickly.
“The teams are being very aggressive with it, and it’s been brought up as a concern,” Miller said. “When any of our competitors raise concern, it’s time for us to take a little bit harder look at it.”
There is some irony in that last statement by Miller: Stewart was fined $35,000 for criticizing a situation NASCAR now has admitted might need fixing.
▪ Rain washed out most track activities Friday at Richmond, including Sprint Cup qualifying. That means Kevin Harvick, who had the fastest practice speed Friday morning, will start from the pole alongside Joey Logano.
Saturday’s schedule includes Xfinity practice at 9 a.m. and Cup practice at 10:30 p.m. The ToyotaCare 250 Xfinity race – which again will include two heat races to set the field – will begin at 1:45 p.m. The first heat race will start at 12:30 p.m.