Friday, April 17, 2015

Todd Parrott returns to Cup garage to be crew chief for a day

   Former Sprint Cup Series championship crew chief Todd Parrott made an abbreviated return to the Cup garage on Friday serving as interim crew chief for Richard Childress Racing’s No. 31 team and driver Ryan Newman while the team mulled whether to appeal its tire penalty again.

   Late Friday afternoon, RCR decided it would appeal its NASCAR penalty one more time to the Chief Appellate Officer, Bryan Moss. Until the appeal is heard, RCR's three suspended crew members - including regular crew chief Luke Lambert - can return to work.
   Parrott, who won the 1999 championship with driver Dale Jarrett, has most recently served as RCR’s competition director for its Xfinity Series programs.

   “I have a lot of years in the Cup garage,” Parrott said. “Hopefully, it shows the depth of RCR, while Luke is going through his deal here with his suspension. We have a great bunch of guys."
   Lambert, a team tire specialist and an engineer were all suspended six races by NASCAR for their involvement in a tire-tampering incident during the March 22 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. 

   Most of the penalties assessed to RCR were upheld by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel. The CAO can overturn all the penalties, accept the appeals panel's decision or even increase the penalties. 

  Asked about the mood of the No. 31 team, which has lost 50 driver and owner points, Parrott said, "It's been tough because there has been a lot of focus, a lot of media attention on them and their team. The talks that Luke has had with the guys back at the shop, I feel like the mood of the team is really good."


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Richard Childress statement on decision of Appeals Panel

Statement from Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of Richard Childress Racing
   "I'd like to thank the Appeals Panel for taking the time to hear our appeal today. While they decided to reduce the penalties to the minimum penalties for a P5 violation, I am disappointed that the entire penalty was not overturned given the facts we presented.  

   "In order for the team to move forward, and focus our efforts on the upcoming races, Luke (Lambert), Phil (Surgen) and James (Bender) will begin serving their suspensions this weekend at Bristol. Veteran crew chief Todd Parrott will fill in as crew chief for this weekend's race.  

   "We are still discussing our options and have not yet determined whether to appeal the penalties to the Final Appeals Officer."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What Kyle Busch learned about his accident from a trip to NASCAR's R&D center

   In an interview last weekend with The Observer, NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell said driver Kyle Busch had made a recent visit to NASCAR's research and development center in Concord, N.C, to go over his damaged Daytona race car and go through feedback on his accident.

   During Busch's first media availability Wednesday at Joe Gibbs Racing, I asked Busch what, if anything, new he learned from going through the process at the R&D center compared to just watching video replays of the incident.

   Here was his response:

   "I had seen cars wreck, and I had seen some pretty bad crashes, we all have and you’ve seen a lot of cars destroyed, whatever you want to say. As far as the compression of the race car, I felt like there was a lot there, and a lot to learn for myself, Joe Gibbs Racing, for our engineers here, but also the engineers at NASCAR, to learn and understand. I know they’re kind of thankful that I was actually able to get out under my own power and they didn’t cut the car so they could actually take it back and review it more and more and really do a diagnostic on it. They still are, they’re still working through it as we speak," he said.

   "I feel like when I saw the wreck, it probably was worse than I expected it to be when I looked at it. Now seeing it and looking at it and understanding what happened in the cockpit – I didn’t sit there when I was in the car and getting out of the car, ‘Man look at that, holy smokes.’ I had a few other things on my mind at that time. When I got back to go to the NASCAR R&D Center, obviously that was when I had a good chance to see what it looked like and to see how much safety innovations NASCAR has come up with over the years to keep me here today.

   "I’m alive today just because the fact that the restraints worked, the seat worked, the HANS device worked – everything worked. It was just the pure foot cockpit of the area that obviously injured me. I can’t say enough about NASCAR and their innovations. From knees up, no problem, not a mark on me, not a bruise, not a headache, not a neck ache, nothing – it was all great. It was just a matter of your flailing feet when you’re in a wreck like that.” 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Appeals panel reduces NASCAR penalty to Circle Sport team

   A three-member National Motorsports Appeals Panel on Tuesday reduced the NASCAR penalties imposed last month on the Circle Sport No. 33 team in the Sprint Cup Series for an unapproved rear truck trailing arm.

   NASCAR originally imposed a  $50,000 fine and three-race suspension to crew chief Slugger Labbe and placed him on probation through the end of the year. In addition, a 25-point penalty was assessed to team owner Joe Falk.

   The panel decided to reduce the fine to $20,000 and reduce the points penalty to 10 owner points. The suspension and probation remain in effect. The panel said two of the three rules the team was accused of violating were "subject to interpretation."

   The panel consisted of Russell Hackett, Lake Speed and John White.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Who does a driver have to trust? 'The tire guy' says Dale Junior

   NASCAR this season stopped policing whether lug nuts were loose or missing on tires during pit stops. Instead, the sanctioning body has left that duty to the teams, although a team can face a serious penalty should it lose a wheel during the race. 

   However, the first person who knows whether a team made a mistake is the driver and Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, several were forced to make unscheduled pit stops for missing lug nuts or loose wheels.

   Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke at length after Saturday night's race about the dilemma teams find themselves in on this issue and the trust drivers must place in their pit crews and particularly those who change tires.

   "I think we all were a little worried when NASCAR said we were going to have to police it because that's just a big change from the norm and what we've done in the past. The question is can we police ourselves? NASCAR doesn't have the officials on pit road to do it anymore, so they made a change and put it on our laps. You've got understand how serious a situation is," Earnhardt explained.

   "You get out there on the race track and we got the corner speeds are 18 miles an hour faster in the middle of the corner, and if you lose a wheel going that fast, it's not going to be very good. So you have to have guys that are up front and honest that you trust. If your tire guy done makes a mistake, if he makes a mistake and raises his hand and says 'Look, man, I made a mistake,' you catch it right then, right under the caution, you get it fixed, you get a chance to get back going. Otherwise if you don't speak up, you get a bad vibration, the driver is going to come in, and he ain't going to knock his head against the fence out there when you think the tire is coming off and you lose a lap. Then you're in big trouble.

   "It's a bit of a process, but I think that the guys, the tire guys that are honest and feel confident about I got them tight or didn't get them tight, that's the kind of guys you want coming over the wall to help you. You need them guys looking out for you the same way you look out for them."

Friday, April 10, 2015

Next change on pit road? Jeff Gordon says 'The speed limit is the speed limit'

   Four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon is a big supporter of the new camera enforcement procedures on pit road this season and he'd like NASCAR to take it yet another step.

   Gordon believes it's time NASCAR do away with speed or timing lines on pit road and just enforce the speed limit on pit road from beginning to end.

   Currently, NASCAR monitors the average speed of a car between timing lines. So in theory, a car can go faster than the limit in one area if it goes slower in another.

   "I think that’s the next step. We’ve got to get rid of these speed lines. It doesn’t make any sense. The speed limit is the speed limit. You should never be able to break the speed limit," Gordon said. "You should carry the speed limit all the way down pit road. What we do is find pit stalls to try to get around that. So we’re ramping up and slowing down and that’s what got us in Martinsville. We were just too aggressive with it.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Richard Childress Racing's appeal of NASCAR tire penalty will be heard next week

   The National Motorsports Appeals Panel will hear Richard Childress Racing's appeal of an unprecedented NASCAR penalty for tire tampering on Thursday, April 16. 

   Until the hearing, the fines and suspensions as part of the penalty will be placed on hold but the 75-point driver and car owner penalties remain in effect. Should RCR win its appeal those points will be restored. 

   NASCAR fined Luke Lambert, crew chief of driver Ryan Newman's No. 31 team, $125,000 and suspended him for six races, including all non-points events during that time period. He was also placed on probation through the end of the season.

   In addition, tire technician James Bender and engineer Philip Surgen were each suspended six races and placed on probation through the end of the year.

   NASCAR found the team had tampered with tires used in the March 22 Sprint Cup Series race at Fontana, Calif., and send the tires to a third party to confirm its findings before issuing the P5 penalty - the second most serious in the penalty scale.

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