A $35,000 Mistake - Tony Stewart's Comments Land Him in Hot Water
LUGNUTS AT THE FOREFRONT OF TONY STEWART'S CONVERSATION WITH NASCAR RADIO
Tony Stewart announced today that he will be returning to the track this week at Richmond after being sidelined for 8 weeks due to an injury he sustained on his personal recreational vehicle. NASCAR has also decided to approve him for a injury waiver to make the Chase for The Sprint Cup if he qualifies. Both great pieces of news for Stewart and his teammates at SHR.
But then the NASCAR police reared it's ugly head once more and did something that they claim is in the rule book. They fined the driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet $35,000 for violating Section 12 of the rule book, specifically member conduct guidelines.
Here is what Tony Stewart said about the new rule, or lack of, regarding the policing of lug nuts on pit road.
“I’m beyond mad, I’m P.O.’d at NASCAR about it, to be honest. For all the work and everything all the bulletins and all the new stuff we have to do to superspeedway cars and all these other things they want us to do for safety, we can’t even make sure we put five lug nuts on the wheel.
“It’s not even mandatory anymore. I mean, you don’t have to have but one on there if you don’t want. It’s however many you think you can get away with. So we’re putting the drivers in jeopardy to get track position. It’s not bit anybody yet, but I guarantee you that envelope is going to keep getting pushed until somebody gets hurt. You will not have heard a rant that’s going to be as bad as what’s going to come out of my mouth if a driver gets hurt because of a loose wheel that hurts one of them. With all the crap we’re going through with all the safety stuff, and for them to sit there and sit on their hands on this one … ”
Knowing how many drivers have had to come in to pit for loose wheels, to retighten lug nuts, for vibrations, or for missing 2 lugnuts out of 4 (not 5, 4). The crew chiefs should smarten up and say "I'm not going to that happen to my driver". It's Risk vs Reward. The reward? A faster pit stop. The risk? Going down 1 or 2 laps when you have to repit to fix something that should have never been messed with in the first place.
Put the rule back to all 5 lug nuts tight or you come back in and serve a penalty (after you fix your mistake). The fans are not at risk of wheels falling off and going airborne, don't worry about that. The driver feels a vibration way before the wheel would ever fall off. In Bristol, Jimmie Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus told the 48 "Nothing to worry about, but we only got 4 tight on that last stop. No worries, just an FYI."
He came in a few laps later with a loose wheel.
Shaving precious seconds off a stop, or trying to go for the "money stop" near the end of the race is not worth losing laps or sending the driver out with a wheel you know is going to haunt you. Look what it did to Tony. He spoke his mind, shared his opinion on NASCAR's backwards thinking when it comes to safety, and they hit him right in the wallet. And he wasn't even in the last 8 races.
Keep it up, NASCAR. You're losing fans more and more by the hour. Maybe 35,000?