Confused yet? New 2016 rules leaving drivers, teams bewildered

Matt Kenseth (left) and crew chief Jason Ratcliff left last Sunday's race in Atlanta frustrated.

Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

We are only two races into the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and already I am hearing that drivers and crew chiefs are still confused about some of the procedures NASCAR has put in place this year.

Let’s go back to Daytona where the No. 48 team had a pit crew member hanging his leg over the wall prior to Jimmie Johnson’s pit stop.

Now a year ago, as long as a pit crew member did not have his foot actually touching pit road before his car got into its pit box, then it was okay.

NASCAR amended the rule during the off-season that the only pit crew member now that’s allowed to hang his leg over pit wall is the gasman.

Matt Kenseth crew chief blames disputed penalty on 'misinterpretation'

Now to be fair, all the teams across the board were notified of the off-season rule change, but the No. 48 team made a mistake during the Daytona 500 and it cost them. What you heard from crew chief Chad Knaus, who has won six championships, was that he was still confused and was going to talk to NASCAR to get a clear explanation of the new rule.

Now a week later, we’re in Atlanta and clearly one of the fastest cars all weekend long was the No. 20 car of Matt Kenseth. Matt comes down pit road, the team services the car but then was penalized because the gasman laid a wedge wrench on the decklid of the No. 20 car. He had laid it there so that the rear-tire changer could make a wedge adjustment.

Well, that broke a new rule that states while he is gassing the car, it is the only thing the gasman is allowed to do. Yes, simply laying a wedge wrench on the back of the No. 20 car by the gasman caused a penalty for the No. 20 car.

The crew chief ended up getting into an argument wanting NASCAR to review the supposed penalty, but in the end, Matt Kenseth got black-flagged for two laps and NASCAR picked up his scoring card because he didn’t come down pit road to serve his pass-through penalty. So there is a lot of confusion out there right now and teams are scrambling to get clear, concise interpretations from NASCAR on these and other new 2016 rules.

Even at the end of the race Sunday at Atlanta we had more confusion about this new overtime rule that NASCAR has implanted for 2016. Kyle Busch, who finished third, thought he had finished second, arguing that Dale Earnhardt Jr. had passed him after the caution had come out. Kyle wasn’t clear on the new overtime procedure; Dale Jr. was posted in second, knocking Kyle back to third.

Folks, we are only two races into the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and clearly the drivers, crew chiefs teams and definitely the race fans are confused and bewildered when they thought they understood the new rules, only to find out in the heat of combat, that they really don’t.