A NASCAR executive said series officials will “reiterate” this week the rule that drivers cannot pass to the inside on pit road after penalizing Martin Truex Jr. for that Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, made the comments Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Truex was penalized on Lap 196 for passing leader Kevin Harvick on the inside on pit road before heading to his stall. Truex was upset with the penalty.
“You get to your timing line, you step on the gas and you head straight toward your pit,’’ he told NBCSN after the race. “Obviously, I turned left and came up next to (Harvick) and passed him … as I was driving to my pit, guys do it every week. I don’t know why it was different today.
“I would think that if they didn’t want us doing that anymore, they would tell us in the drivers meeting. Hell, it’s every week. I’ve been passed on pit road 15 times this year that same exact way and I didn’t see guys get penalized. So I guess when you’re doing it for a win it’s different circumstances or something.’’
Truex was the first Sprint Cup driver penalized this season for that specific violation.
O’Donnell said series officials saw this issue happening more often this season and described what Truex did as “blatant,’’ leading to the penalty.
“It is clear in the rule book that you can’t pass to the left,’’ O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s also brought up in every drivers meeting. If you look at drivers pulling off just as they pull into their pits and kind of pull up alongside a car, sure, that’s happened.
“I would probably relate this to other sports. If you look at the three-second rule (in the NBA), it’s always there but it’s rarely called because you don’t see it blatantly, and then you’ll see a coach or some teams say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to focus on this rule, it’s getting out of hand.’
“That was the case certainly for us. We saw a trend that was getting bigger and bigger. For us, that was a blatant pass to the left. We felt we had to make that call. We’ll certainly address it with the industry prior to New Hampshire again to reiterate what the rule is as well, and if there’s any questions where we have to make it more clear, we’ll certainly do so.’’
On the pit road penalty card issued to all teams, Section 20 states that entering pit road: “Vehicles must enter the pit road in single file. After a vehicle commits to their assigned pit box, the vehicle behind may pass to the outside.’’
Truex was cited for a safety violation for passing on entry to pit road. Safety violations are defined in the pit road penalty card as: “Violation of NASCAR safety precautions or careless acts during a NASCAR Event.’’
Crew chiefs are reminded by the rules video that plays during each drivers meeting to “have the current crew chief handout and pit road penalty card with you for the race.”
Section 10.11.4.c of the Sprint Cup Rule Book states: “After a vehicle commits to their assigned pit box, the vehicle behind may pass to the outside.”