I’ve always had a funny saying that I would use over the years where I would say "well, he’s no slow leak," meaning that person was pretty sharp and not slow on the uptake. Now I think I’m going to have to rethink using that after NASCAR threw the book at the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team for, well, deliberate slow leaks.
The reality is that teams have been trying to figure out ways to regulate the pressure in the tires for years. I understand why they try to do it but tires are one of those "third rails" that NASCAR says you don’t ever want to touch along with trying to alter engines or the bodies.
In the past, tire softening was a big thing that teams tried to get away with. Drilling microscopic size holes in the tires sure has taken things to a whole new level. Unfortunately for the No. 31 car, they are now paying a pretty hefty penalty. They fought the law and the law won.
Up until this year there had been a rule in place where NASCAR issued a minimum air pressure and teams weren’t to go below that. They regulated it and had officials in the pits to monitor that teams didn’t go below the line. For the 2015 season that rule was eliminated and air pressure was left up to the teams.
Do you want to take all the doubt out of the situation and level the playing field? If you do, then I suggest NASCAR adopt air bleeders. If everyone had them this would be an issue that we wouldn’t hear about ever again. Trust me, the teams will perfect them just like when NASCAR made the switch to fuel injection and it simply won’t be a subject of conversation anymore.
If they don’t go to something like this now, how in the world is NASCAR ever going to police 43 teams for 36 weeks? Are they going to impound all 43 teams’ tires every week and send them off to be analyzed? That’s as about as unrealistic as you can get. Adopting air bleeders will not only add consistency to the tires, but will enhance safety so the teams can run the tires at the levels they want and not worry about tearing up the sidewalls.
So that’s my recommendation: Take all the doubt about what everyone is doing. Eliminate this issue once and for all. Standardize the process and level the playing field for all the teams with air bleeders.