Race Weekend Central

Friday Faceoff: Is the Single Lug Nut a Failure in Cup?

Erik Jones’ wheel issue at Kansas Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series marked yet another issue with this single lug nut. Is the change to a single lug nut a failure, or is it still too early to tell?

Anthony Damcott: I wouldn’t call it a failure just yet, but I also wouldn’t call it a complete success, either. NASCAR needs to start letting teams make mistakes with this wheel instead of dropping the hammer and suspending crews for four races. That can completely mess up the rhythm of the suspended crew members’ pit stops when they return and makes it likely to happen again (such is the case of Justin Haley‘s crew, which is serving another four-race suspension, totaling eight races so far this season). These teams are not like NTT IndyCar Series and IMSA teams, who have worked with the single lug nut for years and years. NASCAR has used the five-lug wheel for decades, and suddenly changing it to the one-wheel lug and adding the threat of a four-race suspension for a lost wheel (a penalty that didn’t exist prior to this year), teams are going to feel a lot more pressured and mistakes might be easier to make. That is probably why we’ve seen so many lost wheels this year. If NASCAR wants the single lug nut to succeed, it needs to lighten or completely lift the four-race suspension for this season so crews can actually get in the rhythm of the new pit stop. Otherwise, teams will continue to lose crew members to an inadvertent lost wheel.

Brad Harrison: Still way too early to tell. Like most things with this new car, it’s a consequence of the rollout being too rushed. Teams are dealing with the supply shortage, and that’s obviously not a racing-only issue. At the end of the day, this is like anything new in NASCAR, and teams have to adjust. There’s really no other option. Over time, they will. After all, other forms of motorsports use a single lug nut with minimal, if any, issue.

Amy Henderson: The single lug nut isn’t the biggest problem NASCAR has. It is harder to get on right (lots of lost wheels attest to that), but overall, it’s not nearly as big a culprit as the wheel package in general. A low-profile tire looks great on your streetcar, but it’s not proving to be a good racing tire, especially paired with the independent suspension on the Cup cars. The wheel and tire package needs a second look.

Mike Neff: The change to a single lug nut isn’t necessarily a failure, although it is very anti stock car. We all know the car isn’t stock anymore, although much of this new car is closer to stock than we have been in years. There needs to be fine tuning done, especially with the loose wheel penalties, but it will get better. Let’s wait a little longer before we pass judgment.

See also
Couch Potato Tuesday: Kansas Speedway Brings Tire Woes, Jamie McMurray in the Booth

Of the full-time Cup teams, Live Fast Motorsports’ No. 78 is the lowest in owner points. Are you surprised by the lack of improvement from the second-year team?

Neff: A standalone team with limited resources and a rotation of drivers. That sounds like a recipe for struggle. Trackhouse Racing Team, Spire Motorsports and Petty GMS Motorsports have shown that the new car will allow underfunded or new teams the ability to shine. However, it takes a well-running team. LFM isn’t there yet.

Damcott: Not really. I haven’t really heard much from the team as far as equipment improvements or major driver changes. I even forgot it had a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing until I read up on the team to prepare a response for this question. Aside from sponsor announcements, LFM hasn’t really done anything to show it is trying to improve its team, and if it isn’t showing on the track, it definitely shows when you look at points.

Harrison: It’s about where I expected. There’s an old saying — and this is the family-friendly version — that you can’t make chicken salad without chicken. The growth of Trackhouse and Kaulig Racing sure does not help small teams, and over time, especially through a long season, you do have to wonder for small teams if having a charter is worth it or not.

Henderson: No, it’s no surprise, because even with the added parity in the new car, underfunded teams are still a step behind. There’s no mystery here. It’s a small team trying to stay afloat in a sea of big-money operations. I respect what it’s doing, because it knows the odds and tries to defy them weekly.

What is your ideal All-Star Race format?

Henderson: No race and an off-week for teams. But since that won’t happen, I’d start with bringing it back to within a couple of hours of Charlotte, N.C., so the teams can at least be at home with their families. It was always a family event when it was held at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and now it’s just another week away from their families for the crews. Speaking of crews, bring back the eligibility for teams when the driver has left (both team and driver were eligible in that scenario for years) so the team that got the driver to the win gets recognized as well; the driver didn’t do it alone! Then just keep it simple — 30 laps for the All-Star Open with just one transfer. Keep the fan vote, because fans should get a say. Again, keep the main event simple. Pare down the field via eliminations in the first two segments, no more than 30 laps each, then a 20-lap race with the top 10 or 12 for the prize. I just wrote about the 2003 version and this was pretty much how it was set up. Very simple and produced a decent race.

Neff: I want to see the drivers who qualify put up $50,000 of their own money and the winner takes all. The $1 million to the winner sounds good, but when second place gets around $600,000, it doesn’t sting so much. Hopefully, when it ends up at North Wilkesboro Speedway in a few years, NASCAR will adopt that format.

Damcott: I really liked the old format at Charlotte — 90 laps (or 135 miles), five stages of 20-20-20-20-10 (adjusted accordingly depending on the track NASCAR decides to go to). I also don’t hate the idea of putting the first four stage winners in positions one through four to lead them to pit road for a final four-tire pit stop before the last stage. I also loved the qualifying format that had three laps, including a sprint down pit lane for a four-tire stop. The All-Star Race needs to have an ultra-wild format for it to be a great race. This format worked for, like, 10 years, so why not go back to a more simple format?

Harrison: To have this race beyond a few hours of where most teams reside is a slap in the face. It’s a long season from February and November, and it’s a good bet that families of crew members are not thrilled about a full weekend away compared to the two weeks they used to have with Charlotte hosting the All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 back-to-back. It’s also not a great cost balance for teams hoping to race in. You could go all the way to Texas Motor Speedway to run a short sprint and then go home. What’s the sense in that? While racing this event on a 1.5-mile has run its course, you have plenty of nearby options — North Wilkesboro? NASCAR ran The Clash at a track similar to Bowman Gray Stadium, why not run there? Or, for craziness’ sake, the Charlotte dirt track?

See also
2-Headed Monster: Is It Time for NASCAR to Add Different Tire Manufacturers?

Halfway through the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season, which driver has improved the most from last year?

Harrison: You’ve got to look at Ty Majeski. Sometimes, lack of seat time can box a driver into a tough situation to dig out from, but that hasn’t been the case here. Other than 2020, this year’s eight events so far are the most he has entered within Trucks, and it’s safe to say he has made the most of the opportunity he has with ThorSport Racing, having posted two top fives in the last two races. One of the keys to being in the hunt is to be running well going into the summer, and Majeski is in that spot as of now.

Neff: Majeski may have only run a handful of races in 2021, but he really is figuring out how to put a whole race together. He has won many of the biggest races in the country at the local level. It is not going to be surprising to see him score a championship and set himself up to be a star at the national level.

Damcott: Tanner Gray is quietly having his best year on record. Currently 11th in points, he only has two finishes outside of the top 20 (and one of those finishes was 21st). He started out the season with three straight top -10 finishes and has since hit a rut, not finishing higher than 15th. But as soon as he finds luck on his side again, he could still put together an amazing season, regardless of whether or not he makes the playoffs. His best points finish is 14th in 2020, but he finished a disappointing 18th last year, so he has definitely improved from 2021.

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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Sally Baker

Keep it in Charlotte so the teams have some home time. bring back the pit crew challenge…at the track, on pit road, and let the crews shine!

John

If you want manufacturer money, the wheel will remain 18″. If you want to package some sort of electrification and energy recovery systems in the future (and keep manufacturer money) the wheel will remain 18″. The car could be reconfigured to accept a taller tire which can carry more load and make it easier to drive. The focus should be on how to error proof the assembly process. This begins and ends with the air gun. The supplier makes a variety of air guns with different controls on the maximum amount of torque controlled for both tightening and loosening. Most applications have 20% more torque available to remove than to tighten. Nascar has a unique gun spec’d at same torque available on as off. Some series have safety catches on the spindles so that the tool depresses the catch when its engaged and allows it to deploy when removed. There are simple solutions in place if you aren’t too lazy to investigate them.
The 78 has an alliance…with perhaps the most underachieving team in the garage area. Between reviving the F1 operation, starting a drag racing operation, plus running other core businesses, neither Stewart nor Haas seems to have time to manage Stewart-Haas. Getting bad advice doesn’t help.
the best thing Nascar can do with both the Clash and the All Star race is cancel them and shorten the season. Their objective should be to avoid direct competition with football even if it means double race weekends and mid-week shows. The 4 mid-week shows held in 2020 averaged 1.695 million viewers.
Martinsville this year had 1.885 million viewers. Richmond, in the Playoffs, only could draw 1.78 million in 2021. If you do the work to shorten the season, it would make the Southern 500 as the Championship race.

Steve C

Yes, single lug nut fail. Na$car has managed to break what was not broken. Up to date 18″ wheel is fine. Modern cars still use 5 lug nuts. Why the obsession with the single nut? Do they think it makes it more “exotic”?. Hey na$car- five. lug. nuts. are. fine. I promise, nobody will think you’re backwoods or too regional if you use 5 again.

Bill B

Wouldn’t that mean they would have to admit they were wrong?
Don’t you see an inherent problem with that?

Steve C

Bill, indeed I do! Good point.

Jon

I say bring it to Chicagoland Speedway! Saturday Night under the lights at a venue that’s not on the schedule anymore. Just my opinion

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