Much attention was given to the newly-paved racing surface at Pocono Raceway during this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, but while all of the focus was on the racing surface, it was 10 unnoticed wires paved under Pit Lane that had everyone buzzing after Sunday’s race.
The timing lines under Pit Lane measure speeds during and after pit stops, and those lines were working (or not working depending upon which team you talked to after the race) with unprecedented ferocity as NASCAR officials handed out a series-record 22 speeding penalties during the Pocono event.
- 22 speeding penalties obliterated the previous record of 14
- New pavement led to new timing loop locations
- Crew chiefs were aware of changes
“There was one section where the majority was getting caught,” said Brad Keselowski. “It was obvious that the section had some kind of issue because I know both times I got busted; I was under the limit with my tools that I have available. I was consistent down pit road, so if I was speeding in that sector, I would have been speeding in the others but it didn’t show that. I think there’s plenty of evidence to show that there is something wrong with the section. I’m sure that NASCAR will come back and look at it.”
Every week when we go into a race track, there's maps that are printed back here for the crew chiefs to come get. Some choose to get them, some choose to measure their own lines, and some go off of last year's measurements
Placement of the timing loops changed after the Pocono repaving this year, and NASCAR made the new locations available to all teams prior to the event. The majority of the violations occurred in the final of the 10 segments, which had been lengthened from 56 to 83 feet long, leading NASCAR officials to surmise that the guilty teams simply overlooked the new measurements.
“Positions have been changed since last year. It's all brand-new pit road, all brand-new loops.” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition. “Sections are smaller than they were last year throughout pit road -- and actually, the last section's a little bit bigger. But the bottom line is, every week when we go into a race track, there's maps that are printed back here for the crew chiefs to come get. Some choose to get them, some choose to measure their own lines, and some go off of last year's measurements.”
The one thing the teams were definitely aware of was how quick the tickets were being handed out after the first couple of stops, and they wasted little time in getting the word out to their drivers to slow down while coming in for service.
“I was obviously being told from the crew chief that a lot of guys were getting busted in that last segment, so we just made sure and were a little bit on the conservative side that last bracket there,” said Tony Stewart. “It makes you wonder if something was going on in that particular segment because a lot of guys got busted in the same spot. There was a common denominator with everybody that got caught speeding, but I don't know what the reason would be for it.”
Brian Pattie, crew chief for the runner-up Mark Martin Toyota of Michael Waltrip Racing had issues with the penalties – but ultimately decided that he would let teams that finished deeper in the field take the fight to NASCAR.
"I don't know that they have that section -- sector 10 -- if they have the footage off or something like that. They say we're 60.45 (miles per hour) and I'll bring up the data and make sure,” Pattie said. “Now that we have data we can prove to them what we are running now. I'm sure we'll get with NASCAR, but I'm sure a lot of people -- I'll let the other guys that didn't have such a good day go deal with them guys.”