A week after NASCAR issued 13 pit road speeding penalties, at least one Cup driver fears Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway could top that.
“This weekend will be brutal because we’ve never had these timing lines here at Vegas and Vegas is notoriously difficult on speeders,’’ Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch said Friday.
He’s not exaggerating.
NASCAR has issued 20 speeding penalties in the last two Cup races at Las Vegas, including one to Busch. Others who have been penalized include Brad Keselowski, who came back to win last year’s race, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon.
NASCAR began adding timing lines on pit road in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That was after questions were raised when Martin Truex Jr. was penalized for passing on the left on pit road after he accelerated between timing lines at Kentucky.
Last week was the first time at Atlanta since the change and the impact was significant. Kevin Harvick lost the lead after he was caught speeding on the final stop. Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth were each caught speeding twice.
“We knew they added segments, it’s just you go through the segments pretty fast,’’ Kenseth said Friday. “When they’re twice as long, even if you’re not trying to cheat a segment or do something like that, if you look away for a second at your pit stall or whatever and you get going a little bit, you’ve got some room to slow down and correct because they’re timed segments.
“We just had the stuff set too aggressively, and I think especially after they changed something at track, you’ve just got to kind of start over and get a good baseline and err to the slow side and then go from there for the next race.”
Keselowski isn’t so sure that pit road penalties will play as big an impact as the season progresses.
“I think that’s one of those things where everybody kind of learns the new boundary and then they get settled in and it kind of goes away,’’ he said.
Chris Buescher did not get hit with a pit road speeding penalty at Atlanta and has a way of avoiding such an issue.
“One speeding penalty will take away any progress that any 49.5 mph versus 49 mph on pit road will have gained you throughout a race,’’ Buescher said. “Yeah, you’ve got to max it out, but (I) look at the bigger picture and make sure that we don’t have a speeding penalty. I’m not worried about the extra lines here.”