A penalty report from NASCAR is pending
On Tuesday, Stewart-Haas Racing could be the victim of a penalty. Tire issues for Kyle Busch and Kyle Busch Motorsports might net suspensions for several members of the Stewart-Haas Racing crew.
UPDATE Feb 27: NASCAR comments below.
Stewart-Haas Racing didn’t field a truck in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. However, employee’s of the team were a part of a fill-in crew for Kyle Busch.
In the closing laps of the NASCAR Truck Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway Kyle Busch came in for a four tire pit stop. He was the leader at the time. But, they were heading into a two lap shootout, new tires were going to be important. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Kevin Harvick restarted 10th on new tires and took the lead, in one lap.
The crew on the #4 truck was slow on the right front. As soon as the right side jack dropped, Kyle Busch elected to pull off from his pit stall. The driver and team owner decided too much time was lost and made a quick decision to take just two tires instead of the planned four.
However, as the crew struggled with the right front they were well behind the pace of the rear tire changers. By time the right side dropped, the rear tire changers had already worked their way to the left side. They unbolted the left rear wheel and were waiting for the jack to remove the wheel.
But, Kyle Busch took off before the jack arrived to the left side of the truck. The left rear wheel was unbolted and became completely detached at the exit of the pit lane. He stopped the truck and reversed through pit road, grinding the chassis all the way back into his stall. The crew jacked it back up to change left side tires.
NASCAR tire rule: “Any loss or separation of an improperly installed tire(s)/wheel(s) from the vehicle after exiting the team’s assigned pit box will result in a three race suspension of the crew chief, tire changer of the lost wheel(s), and the jack man.”
Ernie Pierce was part of the fill-in crew for Kyle Busch yesterday on the #4 truck. In addition, Coleman Dollarhide was also working on the #4 when the loose wheel occurred.
Pierce is the jackman for Stewart-Haas Racing driver of Clint Bowyer in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Coleman Dollarhide is a tire changer for Kurt Busch, another Stewart-Haas driver.
The suspension rule might not be limited to the truck series. However, it could be. It’s up to NASCAR if the suspension is applied at all and/or if it applies to all 3 series of the NASCAR ladder.
As pointed out by Bob Pockrass of ESPN, it’s a case by case decision. Previously, the penalty was applied across the board, suspending members from all 3 series. In this situation, driver Kyle Busch pulled off with no warning. That may or may not factor into the final ruling by NASCAR.
The suspension in this scenario would be 3 weeks per the NASCAR rulebook. If this same thing happened in the MENCS, it would have been a 4 week suspension.
This rule went into place in 2016. It’s implantation was designed to discourage crew members from only hitting a single lug nut. There was a period in NASCAR where it wasn’t a requirement to tighten all 5 lugs.
For east coast races, the weekly penalty report typically comes out on Tuesday.
UPDATE February 27:
“The rule is clear in terms of the suspension that occurs. That is one of out major safety violations that we have in the rulebook,” Steve O’Donnell stated on The Morning Drive via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“We took a look at that around the rosters. In the past, if you were suspended for that violation it carried across all 3 of our national series.”
“That’s really the discussion. Not so much, will they be penalized. They will. It should just apply to the Camping World Truck Series, that’s where we’re leaning. But, wanted to take the time to get through the weekend and have that dialogue internally.”
“We want to be as fair as we can. We [also] want the penalty to have some teeth into it. I think it does with a suspension. But, we want to make sure it applies just to that series.”
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