Drivers set unwanted record Sunday
Drivers generally like setting new records, but speeding on pit road doesn’t top that list.
On Sunday, 22 penalties were assessed to drivers for exceeding the 55 mph pit-road speed limit. The original record was 14 penalties at Kansas City in 2006. Drivers are given a five mph cushion over the limit, but the Pocono penalties were off the chart.
“We got caught twice,” Brad Keselowski said. “So we’ll try to figure it out. There was one section (10) where the majority was getting caught. It was obvious that the section had some kind of issue because I know both times I got busted, I was under the limit with my tools that I have available.
“I was consistent down pit road, so if I was speeding in that sector, I would have been speeding in the others but it didn’t show that. I think there’s plenty of evidence to show that there is something wrong with the timing section . . . I’m sure NASCAR will come back and look at it. Hopefully, we’ll have it fixed when we come back here in the fall.”
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said the rules haven’t changed. The cars are still timed from “yellow line to yellow line.” However, he feels that changes to the track — including the addition of a 10th timing line, could have caused some confusion.
“This track has gone under a lot of reconfiguation in the past year,” Pemberton said. “It's an all brand-new pit road, all new loops; positions have been changed since last year. Sections are smaller than they were throughout pit road. The last section is bigger. The bottom line is every week there's maps printed back here for crew chiefs to come get. Some choose to get them, some choose to measure their own lines and some go off last year.
“We put the loops in the racetrack. It's just simple math. There's a lot of changes from last year to this year — gear changes and everything. It doesn't matter how many sections there are. Just yellow line to yellow line, and you got to remember to get to that last yellow line. Typically when you see short sections at the end, you have a tendency to get a rash of speeding penalties. It's just a factor.”
Pemberton says the last timing segment — where the majority of the penalties took place — is 83 feet, up from 56 feet last year. But pit road is longer overall and there were no malfunctions with the scoring loops.
Pemberton insists “cars were speeding,” and the drivers were warned in advance of the changes.
“We tell them this is a brand-new pit road,” Pemberton said. “It's not the same length it was a year ago. Sections aren't the same. The racetrack has been paved, all new concrete boxes. Sometimes you run into situations like this. The maps and distances are here for the teams to pick up as they are every week.
“Sometimes we know there's short sections, we'll remind them of that on the radio – that a short section is tough.”
Race-winning crew chief Jason Ratcliff concurred that the teams had been warned in advance.
"Guys get all the way to the end and they can see that yellow line and they're like, 'I can pick it up a little early,'" he said. "So I think it was in section 10 where most of the penalties were coming from, which was just outside of pit box 1. So thankfully I knew that wasn't a section we could get busted in, but we did, obviously myself and the spotter, remind Joey every time down pit road. Oh, that's so frustrating, to have that happen to you because you tried to pick up half a mile an hour or whatever and it just cost you, and it ruins your day."