Team owner Jack Roush questions the consistency of NASCAR’s laser platform, raising issues with an inspection process noteworthy for the numerous warnings issued teams this season.
Cars must go through NASCAR’s laser platform for inspection at the start of the weekend, before qualifying and before the race. The laser platform logs measurements of various parts, including front and rear wheel camber, wheel base and rear axle location. The laser platform can record measurements within 1/1,000th of an inch in some cases.
Controversy has surrounded NASCAR’s inspection process and the platform this season.
Thirteen drivers failed to make a qualifying attempt at Atlanta in the season’s second Sprint Cup event because they could not pass inspection.
NASCAR has issued 12 warnings to Cup teams in the last four points races for needing to go through inspection multiple times. Among those receiving warnings for such issues have been the teams of Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick.
Roush raised issues about the laser platform Wednesday night on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Dialed In’’ show when asked about inspection issues this season.
“That laser machine is also a problem because it’s recognized and understood by everybody that either operates it or either inspected by it … it is not consistent, it does not repeat 100 percent of the time,’’ Roush said. “It is off. We don’t know why it’s off. Sometimes, we think maybe the humidity has something to do with it. The temperature may have something to do with it.
“It does not always give you the same answer for the same set of circumstances on the car dimensionally. That’s caused NASCAR to increase the tolerance sometimes. So if you’ve got something that varies and they give you a tolerance to take care of the variance and you’re a racer, then you try to use the tolerance in your favor to make your car better.’’
NASCAR declined comment.
The laser platform, which debuted in 2013, is calibrated before the season and monitored throughout the season. The platform was developed as a way to streamline the inspection process and based off industry feedback.
Roush also questioned his organization on what it was doing with regards to inspection. Asked if he directs his crew chiefs on how aggressive to be with the car before taking it through inspection, Roush said: “I don’t give them direction on that. It’s each crew chief to determine for himself. If a crew chief gets in a scenario where he is out of trust or he’s indifferent to NASCAR’s policy and procedures on things and they penalize and don’t let you have track time, that’s when I step in.
“Part of the problem we’ve had, according to my guys and as seen by me, we haven’t taken advantage of some of the tolerances as much as some of our competitors have and that has left us lacking a potential to have as much speed in our cars as we might.’’
Roush Fenway Racing does not have a driver in a Chase-eligible position heading into this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway. Greg Biffle is the highest Roush driver in the points at 18th. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is 28th in the points, and Trevor Bayne is 30th. Roush Fenway Racing is winless this season and has two victories in the last 60 Cup races, dating to Sept. 2013.