Five days after fining Tony Stewart $35,000 for comments made about NASCAR’s lug nut policy — or the lack there of — NASCAR has announced a series of mandates for pit stops.
NASCAR will begin policing teams this coming weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, as pit crews will be forced to put on and tighten all five lug nuts per tire. Officials will use its video officiating system to help keep a close eye on each tire.
Looks like the lug nut talk is officially over.. 5off-5on for now on..
— Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) April 25, 2016
In NASCAR’s memo to teams on Monday afternoon, there are three key points that have been addressed:
- All tires, wheels and all five lug nuts 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 to inspect for any noncompliance.
- Any loss of a wheel(s) beyond the exit of pit road may result in a penalty… Violation of the section, resulting in the loss of a wheel could results in a mandatory minimum four-race suspension of the crew chief and tire changer and tire carrier.
If all five lug nuts are not tightened and secured, a driver will likely receive a penalty to come back down pit road to make the proper adjustments. Additionally, if a team is found to have missing lug nuts during post-race inspection, the crew chief will be suspended for at least one event and fined $20,000.
On MORE than 1 occasion, back when teams used 5 lugs, there have been cars in Victory Lane with missing lugs. It will happen again.
— Joey Meier (@JoeyMeier) April 25, 2016
The controversy about lug nuts erupted last week, when Stewart spoke during an appearance last week, denouncing NASCAR’s efforts at mandating all five lug nuts be put on. Questioning the safety of having less than five lug nuts on a tire, the three-time Cup Series champion vented about what he thinks is one of the few safety flaws in NASCAR.
Until last year, when NASCAR implemented officiating via videos, teams were forced to put all five lug nuts on. However, officials left it up to teams to decide how many lug nuts they wanted to put on. In many cases, putting on four lug nuts was a decision made to save time during pit stops, attempting to gain a fraction of a second on pit road.
“I guarantee you that envelope is going to keep getting pushed until somebody gets hurt,” Stewart said at the time. “You will not have heard a rant that’s going to be as bad as what’s going to come out of my mouth if a driver gets hurt because of a loose wheel that hurts one of them.”
Subsequently, NASCAR fined Stewart $35,000 for his comments. The Driver’s Council announced Friday via Denny Hamlin that members will split up the fine, with Stewart donating the same amount to a charity.
According to multiple reporters, including USA Today’s Jeff Gluck, NASCAR will not rescind Stewart’s fine.
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