Furniture Row Racing tested NASCAR’s tolerances on Friday—and failed.
The No. 78 Bass Pro Shops Toyota—the defending Monster Energy Cup Series champions— failed pre-qualifying inspection in the Optical Scanning Station (OSS) three times resulting in Martin Truex Jr. missing time trials and the ejection of the team’s car chief Blake Harris.
The car will also serve a 30-minute practice hold in Happy Hour on Saturday. Truex will start 35th in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday.
Pushing the limits
NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said the team attempted to push the limits and simply went too far.
“We had body scan problems on the rear wheel openings, and we had rear toe failure as well,” Miller said. “Between the combination of those, three times through, we just didn’t get a green light.”
Although the team could have attempted to pass inspection a fourth time, they would have risked the possibility of an escalated penalty.
“It’s always difficult when you’re trying to get everything you can out of the car,” Furniture Row Racing's Joe Garone told Motorsport.com. “We’re just in the process right now of trying to learn the equipment—what we can do and what we can’t do and how the machine is going to repeat. The whole garage is in it. But the bottom line is we’re the only ones that didn’t get through.
“It’s frustrating because we don’t know if we simply made a mistake on the car itself when we rolled through. We don’t think we did, but you’re dealing with thousandths of an inch. It’s not like gloom and doom. It’s not the big deal everyone is making it out to be. It’s just frustrating.
“If you look back, when we had the LIS (Laser Inspection Station), it was very similar. It took everybody to where they could get through week in and week out. There were a lot of teams that struggled, missed qualifying and everything else. It’s not different and now we have a whole new process.”
NASCAR pleased with updated system
Since the introduction of the O.S.S., last week at Daytona, Miller said he was pleased with the results in the first two races. He added the argument from some competitors that the O.S.S. was inconsistent did not hold water.
“We had 20 people make it through on their first attempt,” Miller said. “Multiple people said how consistent the rear wheel alignment was compared to our equipment last year. The only comment I had today on the rear wheel alignment part was positive comments not negative comments.
“We ended up with one (car). I feel like we did our job…We feel like the tolerances that we have set for both the body and the rear wheel alignment are the tolerances that will provide us all with a level playing field and keep the competition where it needs to be. We don’t foresee making it any harder to get through.”
Cole Pearn, crew chief for the No. 78 team, didn’t seem concerned by the penalty.
“It is what it is,” Pearn said. “We just have to make the best of it. That’s our jobs from here.”