Does NASCAR’s current penal system have repercussions to competitors beyond the teams being reprimanded?
After failing inspection at Texas twice, the Nos. 23, 88 and 95 teams all received written warnings. The Nos. 32 and 98 teams received written warning plus were held in the garage in first practice at Phoenix International Raceway for 15-minutes in addition to receiving written warning after failing pre-qualifying inspection three times at Texas.
So now we hope that NASCAR realizes that when you are penalizing a team for their pit road selection that it affects another team that is an innocent bystander
But after four warnings, teams lose pit selection for the next race.
Last week at Texas, the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team forfeited pit selection. However, the penalty hurt the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing team and Chase driver Kurt Busch as much as it did Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Penalty to No. 88 inadvertently hurt No. 41
For Busch’s team, the pit selection was a decent one since the No. 41 Chevy qualified seventh. But generally, the pits around him would have cars that would fall off the lead lap and not be race contenders. That was not the case last Sunday when Earnhardt and Busch were running sixth and seventh, respectively.
“We knew our pit stall was doomed last week,” Busch said. “We picked it with an opening behind us and then the No. 88 (Earnhardt, Jr.) car had a penalty which meant he had to forfeit his pit road pit selection.
“So now we hope that NASCAR realizes that when you are penalizing a team for their pit road selection that it affects another team that is an innocent bystander. It makes no sense to penalize people on their pit selection. But we knew it was going to be an issue and we knew the 88 was going to run well and then our pit crew had a couple loose lugs there.
“We knew we were going to get blocked in a few times and we all tried to work around it. What compounded the issue was that the 88 would pit around us, and then the 16 would come around the 88. So anytime that you have three cars that are pulling in, in that order, it’s going to slow up all three teams.”
Phoenix pit selection
Busch, who tested at Phoenix International Raceway last month and won here in 2005, doesn’t expect the same issues on pit road for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 500.
“For some reason this pit road has more space,” Busch said. “I don’t know what, but I think maybe the pit boxes are a little longer. The pit road speed seems to match pit road better.
“But the way to eliminate pit road issues is to go for pole today and get that first pit box at the end.”