NASCAR issued a bulletin to teams Monday that “all five lug nuts must be installed in a safe and secure manner throughout all national series events.”
The rule comes after recent complaints from drivers about NASCAR not mandating how many lug nuts teams tighten. At least seven Sprint Cup teams had loose lug nuts in races at Texas Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway earlier this month because teams were not tightening all five lug nuts. An inspection by NBC Sports revealed at least 18 of the 40 Sprint Cup teams in Sunday’s race at Richmond International Raceway gluing only four lug nuts on each wheel instead of five.
The rule change comes less than a week after Tony Stewart raised issues about the teams tightening fewer than five lug nuts. NASCAR fined him $35,000 for his comments.
In the bulletin issued Monday, NASCAR stated: “Additionally, we will be introducing updated methods for officiating these rules. That process will continue to evolve over time and we will provide further updates as that model progresses.”
NASCAR’s updated rule states that if any missing lug nuts are found on a wheel before the race it must be corrected immediately and is listed as an unapproved adjustment, forcing the competitor to start at the rear. Any tire intended for race use without all five lug nuts glued to the wheel must be fixed immediately.
If the issue is found after a Sprint Cup race, the crew chief will be suspended for one race, placed on probation and fined $20,000 on the first offense. Multiple events will result in escalated penalties. The penalty in the Xfinity Series is a one-race suspension for the crew chief, probation and a $10,000 fine. In the Camping World Truck Series, the penalty is a one-race suspension, probation and a $5,000 fine.
“NASCAR has been closely monitoring the aggressive strategies on pit road,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, in a statement. “Safety is an area we do not take lightly, as our record has clearly indicated. It’s important for us to have a system in place immediately for addressing lug nut installation, while we also work alongside the industry to develop the best long-term solution.”