Saying “a few problems is a problem,’’ a NASCAR executive said series officials will continue to look into issues with pit guns.
Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that officials needed to gather more information on what happened with pit guns this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Everybody is always quick to blame the gun, not saying that it may not have been a gun problem, but we have to look at everything before we can flat out say we had a gun problem,’’ Miller said. “That’s what we do.
“The program has had a few more hitches in it than, obviously, we wished it would, but we’re making progress with it. We’ll continue to do that and continue to evaluate and continue to try to get better every week and make sure that we dig into whatever problems happen up and down pit road and get them rectified.
“Everything in motorsports is a development process and this is no different. It’s unfortunate that it’s caused some people some problems but development is what it is. We’ll continue to keep it ramped up and get it right.’’
Kevin Harvick was vocal about pit guns, saying issues with the guns impacted his team in both the Xfinity and Cup race there. This is the first year teams have been required to use NASCAR-mandated pit guns instead of their own. Not every team has been happy. Crew chief Cole Pearn was upset about the pit guns at Atlanta.
Said Harvick on Sunday:
“The pathetic part about the whole thing is the pit guns. The pit guns have been absolutely horrible all year, and our guys do a great job on pit road, and the pathetic part about it is the fact you get handed something that doesn’t work correctly, and those guys are just doing everything that they can to try to make it right.
“It’s embarrassing for the sport.”
Harvick’s team also was in the center of another issue Sunday. NASCAR admitted after the race it should have penalized Harvick’s team for an uncontrolled tire late in the event.
Miller explained the process on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio of calling a pit road penalty.
“We will certainly dig into everything that led to those calls being made,’’ Miller said. “I’ve heard some other things speculating that every pit stop gets reviewed or things like that. That’s actually not how it works. When there isn’t a call made from the Pro Trailer (where officials monitor each pit stop) there is no review that gets triggered by anyone. There’s enough penalties on pit road where not every single one can be reviewed, so we have to rely on our staff in the Pro Trailer to make those calls.
“We certainly look at them. One of the things that is great about our sport is our game, quote-unquote, doesn’t stop like it does in other sports when they stand there and look at the review. We have a race continuing to run as we’re looking at these penalties and reviewing them.
“Most of that is to learn because five or 10 minutes after the penalty happens is not the time to be calling the penalty. We use the review process not only to check on calls but to get better and have things to talk about in our meeting of ‘hey, this could have gone this way or this could have gone that way’ with our people so we can have constant improvement in our process.’’
As to what happened that led to no penalty to Harvick’s team for an uncontrolled tire, Miller said:
“There’s a lot of things on pit road that are absolutely 100 percent indisputable,’’ Miller said. “Pitting out of the box. We have a system that we use that sets up electronic lines that’s very easy to see if the car is in or out of the box, driving through too many pit boxes, same thing. The system flags all of those things. One of a few things that is left for the human to make the call on is the uncontrolled tire because there’s so many moving parts to a pit stop that we can’t automate that process.
“There’s judgment in those calls with the uncontrolled tire. In our guys’ judgment the other tires that were called got away further than these did. In retrospect looking at it, I think that certainly the penalty could have been called. (The tire) has to be within an arm’s reach of a guy as he’s trying to control that tire. It’s debatable whether or not this one got more than arm’s reach away. Close call.’’
Section 10.9.10.4.1.b of the Cup Rule Book on uncontrolled tires states:
“NASCAR considers a tire/wheel controlled when all of the following are met:
- A crew member must remain within arm’s reach and moving in the same direction as the tire/wheel when removing the tire/wheel from the outside half of the pit box.
- The tire/wheel must never cross the center of pit road
- The removed tire/wheel must not be allowed to roll free into an adjacent Competitor’s pit box.