The level NASCAR inspection changes slightly when it comes time for the NASCAR Playoffs
NASCAR has gone to extreme measures with the goal of a level playing field. They have a new inspection tent. Out with the lasers, the body templates and in with the optical scanners.
The inspection tent, classified by Clint Bowyer as ‘the room of doom’, uses high definition cameras to scan the entirety of the car. Sometimes this is done before and after qualifying. Sometimes it’s done before and after the race. It just depends on how condensed the schedule is on that given weekend.
In short two-day race weekends, post-qualifying and pre-race inspections are combined into one inspection. But, does that process change at all as the series runs the playoff rounds?
Does the inspection process change in the playoffs?
“We really try to stay as consistent as possible,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition,” Elton Sawyer explains via ‘The Morning Drive’ on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“A lot of our fans our ball and stick fans… As an umpire and that’s really what we are, we want to try to keep that strike zone as consistent as possible throughout the year.”
“If we do that, the teams know where that strike zone is. They know where they can play and where they can work. That’s our goal, to make sure we keep a level playing field but stay consistent with what we’ve started at Daytona and what we’ve done through the regular season.”
“Well stay as consistent as we possibly can. But, we do put just a little more emphasis on those playoff cars to make sure those guys know that their all playing on a level playing field,” Sawyer details.
After the race…
A select number of cars are always due to run through the inspection tent after the race. For the playoffs, that number is increased.
“After the race, we will capture the top 5 and a random vehicle in our standard procedure. Now, that we’re in the playoffs, we will capture all 16 of the playoffs cars. More times than not, you’re also capturing the top 5 with that group. If not, we will go and get the top 5 as well.”
“Most of the time, you’ll see them outside against the pit road retaining wall. Once we have them all, we’ll do a download on the engine. Make sure all the engine parameters were correct.”
“Then, we will take all 16 of those cars and run them through the optical scanning station. We look at the body and the wheel alignment,” Sawyer details.
NASCAR R&D Center
All of the above is done at the race track. However, there’s a handful of cars that are hauled back to Concord, North Carolina for a more detailed inspection.
At the NASCAR R&D Center, the cars and the engines are disassembled. A team of NASCAR employees go over every part with extreme detail.
“We take 1st, 2nd and a random vehicle home, every week,” Elton Sawyer explains.
This week, the random vehicle was the #3. They’ll come back to the R&D Center where [on Tuesday] we’ll inspect those three vehicles.”
“In the tower, Richard Buck, Scott Miller and Steve O’Donnell [make the call on the random car]. This week, Richard Childress’ team is running a lot better. We wanted to make sure they’re in compliance with where they need to be.”
“We’re sure they will be. But, we also want to let the other competitors know that from time to time we’ll just grab another car. We haven’t had an RCR car in here in awhile. It looked like the #3 was a good candidate this week.”
The race winner was Kyle Busch. Kevin Harvick finished the race in 2nd. Austin Dillon finished in 6th. It was Dillon’s first top-10 in the last 5 races.