Martin Truex Jr. raises doubts about the consistency of laser inspection after failure

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JOLIET, Ill. – Martin Truex Jr. questioned the consistency of NASCAR’s laser inspection system after his winning car at Chicagoland Speedway failed inspection by a relatively minor margin Sunday night.

The Furniture Row Racing driver said his No. 78 Toyota was off by 10 thousandths of a degree in the right rear, but its left rear was within tolerances.

“It’s just crazy how that works,” the Furniture Row Racing driver told NBC Sports. “We could probably go across that thing four times a day and get four different readings, so it’s a little frustrating, especially from our side of it — when people think that you’ve got a win and your car is illegal.

“One side is fine, and the way it read this time was the left rear was good, and the right rear was off. Usually, if the right rear is off, the left rear is off. So there’s a lot of weird stuff going on there with that machine, and it’s a little bit frustrating, for sure. At the end of the day, we need to make sure that the stuff doesn’t happen, and we’ll just have to be a little bit more conservative coming forward.”

It was the second straight LIS failure for Truex’s car, which also didn’t pass after finishing third in the regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway. The team received a P2 penalty and was docked 10 points, but it had no impact with the standing reset for the 10-race playoff that started Sunday.

NASCAR modified its rulebook last week, clarifying that cars that failed the postrace laser inspection would be in danger of having a finish or win “encumbered” – meaning it wouldn’t count toward a championship or advancing to the next round in the playoffs.

NASCAR officials confirmed that the LIS failure involving Truex’s car didn’t rise to the severity of being encumbered, so the victory in the opening round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup will advance Truex to the next round of the playoffs.

Truex’s team could be facing another P2 penalty and a 15-point deduction (elevated because of the Richmond infraction), but the impact is negligible because his points total will be reset in the next round.

“I think the new rule is the right thing to do,” Truex said. “We don’t want somebody going to (the championship round) having a car that’s going to have a half-inch of extra skew in it during the race or after the race just to go out and win, so I think the rule is where it needs to be.

“I just wish we could figure out how to make the readings on that LIS machine a little bit more consistent.”

Crew chief Cole Pearn also tweeted about the penalty, joking that the minor infraction might have made the difference in the win.

Jimmie Johnson also could be facing a P2 and a 10-point penalty after his No. 48 Chevrolet failed the LIS.

Matt Kenseth is the only other 2016 race winner whose car failed the postrace LIS. After his July win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Kenseth was docked 15 points for a P3 penalty. The circuit heads to New Hampshire this weekend.

NASCAR began using the laser inspection system at the track this season after qualifying and races. The technology measures the rear toe, which teams alter to improve rear-end skew and improve speed (NASCAR has worked to curb the practice the past few years).

Truex isn’t the first to question the consistency of NASCAR’s laser inspection. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also took aim with a humorous tweet Sunday night.