Last week in Daytona, NASCAR confiscated all the tires from Team Penske and RFK Racing. They found that each organization had manipulated them. Immediately, the scrutiny began. Was this an attempt of cheating?
Roger Penske wasn’t worried though. He admitted that they did alter their tires but didn’t do so for a competitive advantage. They did so in the aspect of safety. In fact, he said that they alerted NASCAR to a way to help these tires but got no response. So, their fault is that they went forward anyways.
In the Daytona 500, we saw tires literally fall off two cars.
NASCAR penalized those two Cup Series teams on Wednesday for losing wheels from their race cars during Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The teams penalized were the No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet, driven by Justin Haley, and the No. 50 The Money Team Racing Chevrolet, driven by Kaz Grala.
As a result of the safety violations by both teams, there were several suspensions announced. For the No. 31 team, crew chief Trent Owens and crew members Jacob Nelson (front changer) and Marshall McFadden (jackman) will miss the next four championship points events. And for the No. 50 team, crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and crew members Chris Zima (jackman) and Aaron Powell (rear changer) will miss the next four championship events.
“Anybody who was at the race today, you talk to most of the teams, they all had trouble with wheels, didn’t they?” team owner Roger Penske said. “It wasn’t something that was unique.
“And I think that we had contacted NASCAR a week before and said that the wheels we were getting were not all the same, and we felt we needed to modify the holes where the drive pins go. We didn’t really get any feedback, and at that point, we went ahead and opened the holes up.”
NASCAR must have now agreed with what Penske/RFK Racing was trying to do because they elected to not issue further penalties after confiscating wheels from both teams at Daytona.
“NASCAR met with Next Gen suppliers and several race teams this week to discuss wheel specifications,” a statement read. “Following that discussion, NASCAR made small adjustments to increase the upper tolerance on pin and pilot bores for Fontana. NASCAR will reevaluate with suppliers and race teams and determine a path forward following this weekend’s race.”
The penalties to the cars that lost wheels were referenced under Sections 10.5.2.6 of the NASCAR Rule Book: Loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle with the note: Loss of tire/wheel during the event.
Grala went on to finish in 26th place in the Daytona 500, while Haley finished 23rd.
I applaud NASCAR to do their due diligence and admit that not only did a team go outside of the box, they did so in the eyes of safety and not only didn’t penalize them, they used their method moving forward.