When it comes to lug nuts, keep 'em tight or pay the price
One of the biggest stories of the 2106 NASCAR season so far has been lug nuts -- how to police them and how to react to violations.
When it comes to lug nuts, I'm not agreeing that the penalty warrants the severity that NASCAR is handing out right now -- suspending crew chiefs is too harsh, in my opinion.
But at the same time, as a former crew chief, I would tell my tire changers about not getting lug nuts tight, "You know if you do this, you know if this happens, what's going to happen to me, and what's eventually going to happen to you."
I would also tell them, "Guys, we can't do that. We're shooting ourselves in the foot."
Now, if one of 'em comes back and says, "Well, what do you want to do, if it's the last stop and the lug nut comes off and it's for the win?"
I'd answer, "If you can guarantee me that we're going to go to Victory Lane, I'll take the hit for the team. But if it's in the early part of the race, or we're sitting back there and running in 15th place or 17th place, or whatever -- if we're not running for the win -- to me, that's inexcusable."
And I think I'd have to turn the tables and say, "You want to split the penalty with me? I won't fire you over this, but you know you need to have five tight lug nuts on every wheel. That's the rule. Don't have to like the rule, but you've got to play by the rule."
That's where we really are, because this is the type of the scenario that we never really heard of until earlier this year when NASCAR made a rules change.
We went from, it's OK to run three or four lug nuts to its mandatory that you have all five on. That's the game now.
During the course of the race, you may have one lug nut come off. I'm not going to get worried about that. But that last stop, you know NASCAR is going to look at it, and if it it's not in proper contact with the wheel, I'm going to get a vacation and I'm going to lose $20,000.
Before too long, I would like to hear from the owners, because if the owners are doing like they normally do and they do back their crew chiefs, and it's costing them $20,000 each time for this lackadaisical attitude or disrespect for the rule, I think they're going to get tired of the bill, too, plus having to make adjustments in their organizations when the crew chief is suspended.