Scott Miller

NASCAR examining inspection procedure, penalties

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NASCAR is examining what penalties to issue when teams don’t pass inspection before qualifying, will have a different inspection procedure this weekend at Martinsville and remains committed to inspecting cars at the R&D Center, a series official said Monday.

Scott Miller, senior vice president of competition, made the comments on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Thirteen cars did not make a qualifying attempt Friday at Auto Club Speedway because they failed to pass inspection in time. Among the drivers who started at the rear in Sunday’s race because of that were Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, William Byron, Kasey Kahne, Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman.

They would have had an advantage with starting on sticker tires while those who qualified had run laps on their tires. Auto Club Speedway’s surface wears tires. Fresher tires produce faster speeds.

NASCAR decided to allow teams that qualified to purchase a sticker set to start the race on, so every team would be on equal footing. For the Xfinity race, NASCAR stated that any team that didn’t pass inspection before qualifying would be forced to pass through pit road at the start of the race. Every car passed inspection.

“Moving forward, I’m not sure either thing will be where we land, but we certainly will be working on something to keep from having to react like that at the race track,’’ Miller said.

At Martinsville this weekend, NASCAR will not have inspection before qualifying. Instead, cars will be inspected after Saturday’s qualifying. That inspection also will serve as inspection before the race since cars will be impounded after qualifying.

If any team fails inspection, their qualifying time will be disallowed and they will start at the rear of the field for Sunday’s race at Martinsville. 

“We’re actually kind of looking forward to that as a way forward actually,’’ Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It would be really good if we could get it down to one major inspection for the weekend moving forward.’’

Miller also addressed the issue of if NASCAR would consider no longer inspecting cars at the R&D Center a few days after the event but complete the inspection process at the track.

Twice this month, NASCAR has announced penalties that were discovered at the R&D Center three days after that particular race.

“We’re looking at a lot of different things that potentially could be something different,’’ Miller said. “We want to make sure that we’re doing a thorough job of inspecting the race cars and right now the R&D Center is our best avenue for doing that.’’

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NASCAR announces stage lengths for Cup, Xfinity & Truck races

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NASCAR revealed stage lengths Wednesday for its Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck races in 2018.

Cup stage lengths will remain consistent with 2017 lengths, the sanctioning body stated. The race and stage lengths for the road course race at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be announced at a later date.

NASCAR is adjusting the stage lengths in the Xfinity Series for races at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix Raceway) and Dover International Speedway. At both Phoenix races, the stages will end at Lap 45 and Lap 90. The race ends on Lap 200. For the Dover events, the stages will end on Lap 45 and 90 and the race will end on Lap 200.

In the Truck Series, both Las Vegas races are scheduled for 134 laps. The stages are set to end at Lap 40 and Lap 80.

“Our primary goal every season is providing the best race for our fans, and to that end, we will remain consistent in terms of stage lengths for the majority of our national series events,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, in a statement. “Last year’s debut of the race format was a strong one, and we look forward to building on that foundation in 2018, starting with Speedweeks at Daytona.”

Here are the stage lengths for 2018:

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Track Stage 1 Stage 2 Final Stage
(ends on lap) (ends on lap) (ends on lap)
Daytona International Speedway 60 120 200
Atlanta Motor Speedway 85 170 325
Las Vegas Motor Speedway 80 160 267
ISM Raceway 75 150 312
Auto Club Speedway 60 120 200
Martinsville Speedway 130 260 500
Texas Motor Speedway 85 170 334
Bristol Motor Speedway 125 250 500
Richmond Raceway 100 200 400
Talladega Superspeedway 55 110 188
Dover International Speedway 120 240 400
Kansas Speedway 80 160 267
Charlotte Motor Speedway Stage 1 – 100, Stage 2 – 200,

Stage 3 – 300, Final Stage – 400

Pocono Raceway 50 100 160
Michigan International Speedway 60 120 200
Sonoma Raceway 25 50 110
Chicagoland Speedway 80 160 267
Daytona International Speedway 2 40 80 160
Kentucky Speedway 80 160 267
New Hampshire Motor Speedway 75 150 301
Pocono Raceway 50 100 160
Watkins Glen International 20 40 90
Michigan International Speedway 2 60 120 200
Bristol Motor Speedway 2 125 250 500
Darlington Raceway 100 200 367
Indianapolis Motor Speedway 50 100 160
Las Vegas Motor Speedway 2 80 160 267
Richmond Raceway 2 100 200 400
Charlotte Motor Speedway 2 TBD TBD TBD
Dover International Speedway 2 120 240 400
Talladega Superspeedway 2 55 110 188
Kansas Speedway 2 80 160 267
Martinsville Speedway 2 130 260 500
Texas Motor Speedway 2 85 170 334
ISM Raceway 2 75 150 312
Homestead-Miami Speedway 80 160 267
2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series
Track Stage 1 Stage 2 Final Stage
(ends on lap) (ends on lap) (ends on lap)
Daytona International Speedway 30 60 120
Atlanta Motor Speedway 40 80 163
Las Vegas Motor Speedway 45 90 200
ISM Raceway 45 90 200
Auto Club Speedway 35 70 150
Texas Motor Speedway 45 90 200
Bristol Motor Speedway 85 170 300
Richmond Raceway 75 150 250
Talladega Superspeedway 25 50 113
Dover International Speedway 45 90 200
Charlotte Motor Speedway 45 90 200
Pocono Raceway 25 50 100
Michigan International Speedway 30 60 125
Iowa Speedway 60 120 250
Chicagoland Speedway 45 90 200
Daytona International Speedway 30 60 100
Kentucky Speedway 45 90 200
New Hampshire Motor Speedway 45 90 200
Iowa Speedway 60 120 250
Watkins Glen International 20 40 82
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 20 40 75
Bristol Motor Speedway 85 170 300
Road America 10 20 45
Darlington Raceway 45 90 147
Indianapolis Motor Speedway 30 60 100
Las Vegas Motor Speedway 2 45 90 200
Richmond International Raceway 75 150 250
Charlotte Motor Speedway TBD TBD TBD
Dover International Speedway 45 90 200
Kansas Speedway 45 90 200
Texas Motor Speedway 45 90 200
ISM Raceway 2 45 90 200
Homestead-Miami Speedway 45 90 200




2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Track Stage 1 Stage 2 Final Stage
(ends on lap) (ends on lap) (ends on lap)
Daytona International Speedway 20 40 100
Atlanta Motor Speedway 40 80 130
Las Vegas Motor Speedway 40 80 134
Martinsville Speedway 70 140 250
Dover International Speedway 45 90 200
Kansas Speedway 40 80 167
Charlotte Motor Speedway 40 80 134
Texas Motor Speedway 40 80 167
Iowa Speedway 60 120 200
Gateway Motorsports Park 35 70 160
Chicagoland Speedway 35 70 150
Kentucky Speedway 35 70 150
Eldora Speedway 40 90 150
Pocono Raceway 15 30 60
Michigan International Speedway 30 60 100
Bristol Motor Speedway 55 110 200
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 20 40 64
Las Vegas Motor Speedway 2 40 80 134
Talladega Superspeedway 20 40 94
Martinsville Speedway 2 50 100 200
Texas Motor Speedway 2 35 70 147
ISM Raceway 40 80 150
Homestead-Miami Speedway 40 80 134

NASCAR official explains why Jimmie Johnson’s team not penalized for pit stop


Although NASCAR said it routinely has not penalized teams for securing a lug nut outside their pit box, as Jimmie Johnson’s team did Sunday, a senior series official said Monday that not all teams might be aware that they can do that.

Johnson started to pull out of his pit box before being stopped by his team because of an unsecured lug nut late in Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Johnson backed up but his car was not entirely in his pit stall when the tire changer secured a lug nut on the left front wheel. NASCAR did not penalize the team. Johnson entered pit road fourth and exited 15th on the Lap 280 pit stop. He finished seventh.

A NASCAR rule states that teams servicing a car outside its pit box are subject to a one-lap penalty.

A NASCAR spokesman explained after Sunday’s race that officials view that as a safety issue and that Johnson endured a penalty with the slower stop to immediately fix the problem.

Monday, Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, discussed the issue on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“It’s funny that this has come up now because it’s high-profile now that the playoffs, we’ve been calling that particular thing consistently over the past couple of years with the lug nut,’’ Miller said. “The way we look at that one is they did their normal pit stop in the pit box. He left. They realized they had a lug nut and at that point to us it becomes a safety issue and allowing them to put the lug nut on. The penalty becomes they lost probably 10 or 12 spots during that pit stop. That’s a penalty.

“We let them do that because we want to make sure that it’s a safe situation out there on the race track. That’s the way we’ve been calling it. We like to give the teams the benefit of the doubt if we can, especially when it comes to something that might create an unsafe situation. That’s the basis for that call. It’s interesting that it’s so high on everybody’s list today when we’ve been calling it for a couple of years now.’’

Asked if that is communicated to the teams immediately that if they fix it, they won’t be penalized, Miller said: “We didn’t call it so obviously they got the information. I don’t know that every single team up and down pit road knows that’s the way we’ve been calling it. There’s a lot of subtleties up and down pit road and if we tried to communicate everything that we discuss in every one of our meetings about pit road officiating it would probably inundate the teams with information and they would probably end up more confused than they are now.

“Does everybody know that’s the way we’ve been calling it? Potentially not.’’

Cole Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr., told NBC Sports after the race that he was unaware of such an allowance.

“I was under the assumption that was a one-lap penalty, so I was a little confused on that call, but I was so nervous with what we were doing that I really didn’t put much attention to it.’’

Miller compared that situation to another on pit road that NASCAR doesn’t issue a penalty when a team corrects an issue.

“No different than when someone is out of the box and they have the fuel can plugged in and they push the car back in,’’ Miller said. “We don’t want to create an unsafe situation where the fuel man has got to pull out, re-insert and do all that. Along those same lines of safety is the way we’re looking at this.

“We will circle back with the industry now that this has become the big topic and see if we need to do anything different. For two years it has been consistent and it will continue to be consistent between now and the end of the year.’’

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NASCAR says ambulance driver did not follow directive, leading to incident

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RICHMOND, Va. — A wayward ambulance did not stop when instructed to do so during Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway, causing an incident that forced Matt Kenseth out of the event and series officials pledging not to let it happen again.

Kenseth ran into the back of Clint Bowyer’s car when several cars braked because the ambulance was at the entrance of pit road during a caution on Lap 257. Kenseth’s car suffered a damaged radiator and did not continue, finishing 38th. Kenseth still qualified for the playoffs. Had there been a first-time winner Saturday, Kenseth would have missed the playoffs.

Scott Miller, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, said the ambulance driver was instructed to stop before the vehicle did.

“We had a situation where a directive was given from the tower and it wasn’t followed, and we’ll do our due diligence why it wasn’t followed and make sure that we’re prepared to never make that mistake again,’’ Miller said after the race, which was won by Kyle Larson.

“It is a very strange thing. The track workers are usually very, very good at following the directives and tonight they didn’t.’’

Adding to the issue is that NASCAR did not close pit road with the ambulance blocking one of the lanes. Drivers criticized that move.

“I was alongside somebody to the right because I didn’t want to knock my nose off and I just turned into pit road and if I get busted (for a commitment line violation), I get busted,’’ Kyle Busch said. “It was just a mess. I think they gave everyone the benefit of the doubt on that one. That was a mistake on their part for opening it up too early.’’

NASCAR did not penalize anyone for a commitment line violation during that sequence.

Kasey Kahne said he had a close call trying to avoid cars and the ambulance entering pit road.

“Everybody is braking hard because what happens is the leaders go to the line and everybody speeds up to get there and it’s an accordion effect,’’ Kahne said. “It gets worse the further back. Usually you have a couple of lanes and you offset yourself. There was only basically one lane and everybody ran out of room.’’

Asked if they should have closed pit road, Miller said: “We probably should. Those calls are very dynamic. They happen very quickly. It’s the race director in charge of pit road open and close and it’s the track services and safety crew in charge of the other. we didn’t sync up tonight.’’

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NASCAR will look at issue of drivers slowing near pit exit to get preferred restart lane


Saying that it is “not something that we want because we don’t need accidents at the end of pit road with people checking up,” NASCAR’s Scott Miller noted Monday that the sanctioning body will look into the issue of drivers slowing or stopping near pit exit to try to get the preferred lane on restarts.

It’s a common tactic at some tracks, including Martinsville Speedway, which hosts a playoff race. Denny Hamlin was the most obvious driver to do it in Saturday night’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Hamlin was set to exit pit road third (and start on the inside lane) one time when he slowed to try to be fourth and get the preferred outside lane to restart. Instead, two cars passed him, he exited fifth and restarted on the inside line.

Another time, Hamlin slowed at the end of pit road causing a few cars behind to run into the back of each other. All were able to continue.

“We’re certainly going to look at it,’’ said Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about the pit road ploy. “What we saw go on that everybody is talking about was pretty obvious. Ironically, it didn’t quite work out. Sometimes those things don’t.

“No, that’s not something that we want because we don’t need accidents at the end of pit road with people checking up. We’ll figure out how we’ll address that one and try to move on. Really only kind of comes into play at a few places. We know when it’s possibly going to happen, so we’ll try to address that.’’

Asked on “The Morning Drive” if NASCAR might do something that is done a short tracks where drivers pick what lane they want in order they’re running on the track, Miller said:

As we do here at NASCAR, we’re constantly looking at ways to make the races and the action for the fans more interesting,’’ Miller said. “That is a topic we have discussed a little bit. I personally am really not super familiar with that and how it works but some of the others are and it’s something that we’ve talked about, but we talk about a lot of things. When the final decision comes, I’m not sure what that will be but certainly that has been a topic of discussion.’’

Miller also said that NASCAR planned to have the PJ1 traction compound again added to the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the playoffs. Both tracks had it applied earlier this season.

“We’re looking at it at some other places, too, not fully decided yet,’’ Miller said. “We’re learning about it and learning about its uses and its positives. We haven’t really found any negatives. As with anything it’s a challenge to get right because it’s the first time we’ve dabbled in this. We have experience at those tracks but anyplace new that we go is still just a project that we’re working on.’’

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