Once again, inspection issues plagued the qualifying sessions at Kentucky Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
When qualifying began in the NASCAR Xfintiy Series, there were roughly 10 teams sitting in the inspection line at the LIS station. Luckily, all teams were able to make a lap in the session due to the cleanup from three spins on the racing surface.
However, Kyle Larson was not lucky during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying. The team went through the LIS at least four times before ultimately giving up as the clock ran out on qualifying.
At Kentucky, NASCAR began issuing tougher penalties to teams who decide they want to play games in inspection. One of the penalties was moving practice holds to the final practice session of the weekend. The sanctioning body is also looking at taking away a set of tires from teams. NASCAR is also taking away the “hard cards” of crew chiefs for a certain amount of time, forcing them to get paper credentials from each track.
NASCAR is keeping teams in check by forcing their hand when it comes to the inspection process. Teams called on NASCAR earlier in the season to keep a stiff hand.
In an effort to make the racing better after a repave at Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) ran the tire dragon across the middle to lower grooves of the track.
However, when NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams arrived to the track on Wednesday for practice, they were upset with where the speedway ran the tire dragon. The speedway confirmed they ran the tire dragon where they did last year based on the racing.
SMI officials were adamant that they knew what they were doing, until Friday. After more outcry from drivers, SMI ran the tire dragon in an eight foot section from the middle groove up before and after the postponed NASCAR Xfinity Series event.
After the Xfinity and Cup race, there was no noticeable difference in the racing based on where the track ran the tire dragon. The only difference was found from within the cockpit when drivers would get out of the bottom groove that the track would catch the car and not send the driver for a spin,
With stage racing in place, competition cautions should have been deemed unnecessary especially with short stage lengths in the Truck and Xfinity series.
Despite rains throughout the day before the Truck race, NASCAR did not issue a competition caution. Why? The first and second stage had lengths of 35 laps. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, there was a competition caution despite the opening stage lengths being only 45 laps.
NASCAR should look at potentially removing competition cautions in the Truck and Xfinity Series due to the shorter stage length. The stage lengths in these series is usually shorter than the length of a fuel run. Teams cannot fuel the car before the competition caution.