After the rule that all five lug nuts must be installed on each wheel in a 'safe and secure' manner was put into place, some are still pushing the envelope. As a result, consequences are already being handed down.
Just four days after Kyle Busch won the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway, his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team was hit with a P3 penalty. According to the NASCAR rule book, one of the P3 violations is any identification of missing lug nuts on a wheel post-race. This is also know as actions detrimental to stock car racing.
Cars are impounded and tech checked at the track. Most likely at the teardown at R&D, which happens every Tuesday morning, NASCAR put a torque wrench on the lugs to test them. This ensures that even though they were glued to the wheel that they were tightened, per the rule book 10.11.3.4.
Crew chief Adam Stevens has been fined $20,000, suspended from one weekend of NASCAR Series Championship points-accumulating events and and put on probation throughout the rest of the season. Front tire-changer, Josh Leslie will also get the same punishment.
When NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck spoke to ESPN, he was very clear about the expectations for how lugnuts should be attached. "I don't think there is any gray area," Buck said, noting that the violation was found after the race. He also mentioned that JGR could appeal, making Stevens able to guide Busch this weekend at Dover International Speedway.
"I've given them (NASCAR) my fair share (of money) over the years so for us it was cut and dry, five off, five on," Slugger Labbe said on Sirius XM NASCAR's Tradin' Paint. "You saw people hitting four lug nuts under green (flag pit stops). To me that's a direct violation."
The No. 3 Chevrolet crew chief for Richard Childress Racing also mentioned that was what the drivers had been compaining about. "Four lug nuts were not safe, they wanted five and that's why they went to the rule," Labbe said. "If a team was only hitting four lug nuts then the rule never really changed. NASCAR made a stance today and we just all have to support it."
Labbe also noted about just how competitive and cutthroat things are down on pit road. "We were doing 11.80 second pit stops and they (No. 18 Team) were doing 11.20 so that's typically about sixth tenths of a second," he said. "It comes down to the tire changers. We gain tenths on the racetrack and seconds on pit road."
Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet crew chief Chad Knaus' team is hitting all five but still understands mistakes can happen on pit road. "We're hitting five lug nuts on every pit stop," Knaus said during FS1's Race Hub. "What happens is the tire changer can miss a lug nut. They hit five lug nuts in less than a second, so if they miss, the jackman can drop the jack and they (tire changer) may not be able to get it."
Knaus and his team are taking a conservative approach to the whole situation. "We're going to continue to try stop the car, put that lug nut on, and do everything we can not to get in trouble," he said "We actually had it happen on Saturday night. The tire changer missed a lug nut and we waited before we sent the car. That's kind of our approach."
When Ray Evernham joined yesterday's Sirius XM NASCAR's four-hour show, Speedway, he explained what he saw during the 267-lap race. "I started to look around and from my perspective, I saw people that actually had lugnuts marked not to hit," he said. "With the color and the amount of glue that was on the nut, I was like 'what the heck' and then 'oh I get that'. There were a lot of people hitting four lugnuts, not just the No. 18 car."
Like a few others in the garage, Evernham isn't sure how NASCAR is going to start policing this problem. "I don't know how NASCAR's going to handle that. This is what I was afraid of," he said. "How do you create a rule that you can enforce fairly across? NASCAR's got some work to do to figure out how they can enforce those rules across the board."
Although his team is currently in hot water, Busch will still recieve bonus points earned for Saturday night's win for round one of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He also still leads the Chase with three wins on the board and is currently four points off the lead in the Sprint Cup Series standings. It was just announced that JGR will not appeal this matter.
Coming off the ranch, I didn’t have a motorsports background but my passion was and still is very strong. My first taste of NASCAR came at the age of seven while waiting for music videos to come on the old TNN network. As I grew up, I pursued other interest but eventually rediscovered cars going left when I found the SPEED channel during the 2011-2012 offseason.
I didn’t decide I wanted to pursue a career in NASCAR until the summer of 2012. I’m not a wrench head or strong enough for a pit crew so media was the next best thing. At the beginning of 2013, I started going to races and making connections within the sport. I also studied Motorsports Management at Sports Management Worldwide. Although I love what happens on the track, I’ve always been interested in what goes on behind the scenes and I’ve gotten to know many people throughout the radio, TV and digital media world.
While I’m a long time writer, 2015 was my first year actually covering the sport with www.nascarfemale.com . I also became a media correspondent for Raceline. I’ve been able to help the TV show gain recognition on social media. My current goal is to acquire more experience in covering NASCAR and move up the media ladder. Outside of motorsports, I have been an equine-sports statistician for 16 years.
I currently reside in Gillette, WY where I’m still involved with horses. I enjoy riding them, rodeo, swimming, traveling and meeting people.