NASCAR official: Sport taking a closer look at lax lug nut enforcement – Sporting News
NASCAR on Friday validated Tony Stewart’s comments about lug nuts and racing safety. Just without rescinding his $35,000 fine.
It sent Scott Miller, senior vice president of competition, into the media room at Richmond to address questions about a growing concern regarding one of the smallest and least expensive items on a racecar.
The gist of Miller’s comments: We are reviewing procedures and enforcement.
Presented here are Miller’s comments and questions raised in Friday’s Q&A session.
MILLER: Obviously one of the stories this week has been some concerns about safety from one of our drivers, and obviously NASCAR has worked very, very hard in the areas of safety, and it’s certainly a topic that we take very seriously.
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. But obviously there have 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 reevaluate our position and work with the community on looking at possibly different ways to enforce the pit road rules.
The teams are obviously pushing harder than they ever have in this area, and it’s time for us to take a look at it. But we’ll do that as an industry. The open dialogue is very good right now between NASCAR and the teams, so we’ll work internally and with them to move forward here.
Q. Under the rule book, it already says that all tires and wheels must be installed in a safe and secure manner at all times during the event, so in theory, could you not penalize teams now if you were able to discover that they were not safely attached?
MILLER: Yes, absolutely, and we have the ability to do that, and then very severe penalties are spelled out should the wheel actually come off of the car at any point. We do have those rules, and they’ve served us well, but obviously moving forward, the teams are being very aggressive with it, and it’s been brought up as a concern. When any of our competitors raise a concern, it’s time for us to take a little bit harder look at it.
Q. Do you feel it has been unsafe to the point that you guys were worried about it? And can you ever eyeball enforce it or know for a fact unless you line up technology that will show you that for reasons you can see that they’re not exactly tight and safe, the lug nuts?
MILLER: Well, I think technology will ultimately be our way home on this. Throughout the history of the sport, there have been loose wheels. We’ve seen it since I’ve been in the sport for over 20 years; from time to time there are loose wheels. It hadn’t risen in our opinion to the point where we thought that loose wheels currently were becoming an unsafe thing out there on the racetrack, but obviously others have, and we’ll do our best to make sure that we satisfy the industry on this one.
Q. There’s been a lot of talk this week on talk radio specifically regarding whether or not we would ever go to a one — I don’t know, like one thread or put the wheel on one hub like F1 does, going to that so there wouldn’t be this kind of discussion pretty much. Can you address that? Can you ever see the wheels changing where there wouldn’t be five lugs, whatever you call the threads that you put it on there? But the other thing in addition to that was they were talking — we’ve heard different things about the penalties, and I had somebody from NASCAR send me the specific penalties, but there’s been so much different talk about losing wheels and what the penalties are, I don’t know if everybody else went through NASCAR to get the specific information, but if you could clarify that, as well.
MILLER: Well, OK. First, the second part of your question on the rules. It says, “A loss of wheels due to improper installation is a mandatory minimum four race suspension of the crew chief and tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheel.” So that’s the penalty that would be imposed should a wheel actually come off.
On the single nut, that’s definitely obviously something that’s been in other forms of motorsports for a long time and something that we would potentially consider in the future, but it is a big redesign of both the rear suspension and the front suspension. So that, if it ever came into play, would be a little bit longer-term solution.