The lugnut issue in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been resolved. It was announced today in a statement from NASCAR that teams are now required to install all five lug nuts in a 'safe and secure manner' at all times during events. This means no more cutting corners and no more loose wheels.
According to the NASCAR rulebook, a wheel lost beyond the exit of pit road may result in a penalty in the sole discretion of NASCAR. NASCAR also reserves the right to require any competitor to report to pit road to inspect for any noncompliance.
NASCAR race teams are really going to have to be on their toes now. Any loss of a wheel due to improper installation will result in a mandatory minimum four race suspension for the crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheels.
Penalties will also occur if any unapproved adjustments are made before the race. The consequences will be the team needing to correct the problem immediately, followed by having to start at the tail of the field.
Tires intended for race use without all five lugnuts on them will result in a written warning and an immediate correction. Post-race P3 penalties will also be assessed. The first offense is a minimum $20,000 fine, a one-race crew chief suspension as well as probation. Multiple offenses will carry escalated penalties.
The question now is, how will this be policed? NASCAR is yet to come up with a method for officiating these rules and will provide further updates.
When Regan Smith, driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet in the Cup Series, joined FOX Sports 1's Race Hub, he mentioned he's all for anything that makes it safer. "I haven't had a loose wheel this year," Smith said. "We see that there's been an issue with this and there's been a lot of loose wheels. It's only a matter of time until that problem gets worse and something falls off the car."
Former crew chief and current NASCAR on FOX analyst Larry McReynolds has two different feelings about this issue. "As long as I know all of my competitors are installing five lug nuts per wheel, I'm ok with that. It means we are on a level playing field," McReynolds said, also during Race Hub. "My biggest question is how are you going to police it? How are you going to police four wheels with five lug nuts times 40 race cars now that there are not officials on pit road. I know they probably have a plan in place but what that tells me is the one time you better make sure that car has five lug nuts per wheel is in post-race (inspection)."
Dave Moody of Sirius XM NASCAR and Motor Racing Network also joined the FOX hour-long highlight show for his weekly segement and is also concerned about how officials will keep an eye on teams with NASCAR eliminating the pit road officials. "I think that's probably the right move to make," Moody said of the new policy. "I'm not sure how they are going to determine how tight or if all of them are tight enough to actually hold a wheel on. I don't know how they are going to do that as of yet. The Pit Road Officiating System (PRO) will play a role but to my knowledge, none of those cameras are aimed at the left side of the racetrack, only the right so there's going to have to be a human component to this."
"It's going to slow the pit stops quite a bit," driver Brian Vickers said on NBC's NASCAR America. Vickers has been filling in for the No. 14 of Tony Stewart, whom has returned to the track. "Ultimately, it's right for safety but they've (officials) got some things to work out," Vickers continued. "Because of the steepness of the penalty, you don't want to get this call wrong."
With this new rule in effect immediately, post-race inspection this weekend at Talladega is sure to be interesting.