BUSCH: Tires to be picked up immediately during pit stops

NASCAR cracking down on stray tires By Marty Smith DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Apr. 3, 2000) Due to an inordinate amount of stray tires on pit road during the first seven races of NASCAR 2000, the sanctioning body has implemented a rules adjustment.

NASCAR cracking down on stray tires
By Marty Smith

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Apr. 3, 2000) Due to an inordinate amount of stray tires on pit road during the first seven races of NASCAR 2000, the sanctioning body has implemented a rules adjustment. Teams are now required to pick up right-side tires immediately following every pit stop or they will be penalized, beginning with the Goody's Body Pain 500 this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. "For the last five or six years, we've allowed seven men over the wall, a seven-man pit crew. Before that, it was six-man pit crew, and we added the seventh man in order to pick up tires," said Gary Nelson, NASCAR Winston Cup director.

"That worked pretty well. All of the teams pretty much did it. But recently, fewer and fewer teams were picking it up, so we decided rather than asking them to do it, we'd tell them they had to do it. That's what's going to happen at Martinsville."

According to Nelson, If a right-side tire is left on the outside half of the pit box and impedes the progress of another team, a penalty will be issued at NASCAR's discretion.

"It's an umpire calling balls and strikes. If you think about it, we'd say you've got to have your tires at least on the half of your pit area closest to the pit wall to be sure not to get a penalty. That will be the judgement of the official at the spot. When things are moving, the car's moving away and the tires are moving towards the wall - did it happen or did it not happen? That'll be the judgement of the official."

Nelson said the duration of the rule has not yet been determined, but hopes it "would like to think it would be all year. We'll take it one step at a time."

The dilemma began at Daytona, when Tony Stewart twice hit tires left from teammate Bobby Labonte's crew, resulting in damage to the front air dam of the No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac. The trend has continued for several weeks, including Sunday when the right rear tire from Matt Kenseth's No. 17 DeWalt Tools Ford scurried unattended across pit road.

"Just before the driver's meeting yesterday we decided to go ahead and do it," Nelson said. "We've been kicking it around a lot, and just before the driver's meeting we decided to give it a shot at Martinsville. We gave the seventh man several years ago and it worked OK, then more and more guys started leaving the tires there and we had more and more cars bumping tires.

"And, in recent weeks we've been asking the teams to pick them up. At one point during the season in a driver's meeting, we told the teams if you don't pick up the tire, we'll have to get involved. And if we get involved, it's gonna mean penalties. It doesn't mean don't do it anymore. You HAVE to do it now.

"We had a situation where the teams were using three or four air wrenches to change tires about six years ago," he said. "So we told them to go back to two air wrenches and use that extra guy to pick up the tires that are left behind. That really worked well for a long time, then it started going away more and more. We asked them and asked them to turn to the procedure where tires are picked up, and a lot of teams were doing it, but there was just enough that weren't where it created problems.

"Hopefully, us addressing it will make it standard procedure for every team on pit road to make it a non-issue in a short period of time."

-nascar.com-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart