DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Denny Hamlin believes NASCAR should change its uncontrolled tire rule, and his team will present video evidence to make its case.
Hamlin, who finished 15th at Chicagoland Speedway after an uncontrolled tired penalty, said Thursday that Joe Gibbs Racing officials will meet Thursday afternoon with NASCAR Cup director Jay Fabian and vice president of competition Scott Miller at Daytona International Speedway.
“The team officials have showed me in emails what they have prepared of multiple pit stops just from last week that are identical or more egregious than ours, and nothing gets called,” said Hamlin, who also had argued the point earlier this week on Twitter. “Is it just because they happen to be looking at you, you get judged? It’s hard for me to believe that inside the system, it flags you when a tire isn’t moving.
“It seems like wherever their eyeballs are on that particular stop is who gets especially looked at, but we have multiple video evidence of other pit stops from other race teams that are identical. You can not draw a difference between them and no penalty. That’s my complaint. It is a judgment call. It’s not black and white. There is no line. It’s not a line that gets crossed, it’s ‘Uh, yeah, it looks a little more than arm’s length.’ ”
Four years ago, NASCAR began monitoring pit penalties with the Pit Road Officiating trailer, which relies on several high-definition cameras to determine calls such as driving through too many pit boxes, too many men over the wall and uncontrolled tires. Replays of potential penalties are sent to NASCAR executives in the scoring tower to be reviewed.
There have more uncontrolled tire penalties since pit crews were reduced from six members to five last year.
According to the NASCAR rulebook, a tire is considered “controlled” when a crew member remains within arm’s reach and is moving in the same direction as the tire when removed from the outside half of the pit box. The tire also much not roll into an adjacent competitor’s pit box (per this illustration).
Hamlin wants NASCAR to change the rule immediately because the penalty is too harsh and too confusing for casual fans.
“These are people that aren’t Denny fans, they’re like, ‘I just don’t get it,’” Hamlin said. “If they don’t get it at home, it’s probably not a rule that needs to be in place in the Cup Series, because you can’t explain it to them.
“It’s hard to explain when a tire is just sitting there that it’s uncontrolled. It’s not moving. It is controlled. … What is an arm’s length? They do have some sort of technology that says, ‘OK, this distance from tire changer to tire is more than an arm’s length, and they can pull a measuring out.’”
Hamlin was unable to recover from the penalty despite having 162 laps remaining.
“We had earned our spot up front, and it’s, ‘You’ve got to go to the back,’” said Hamlin, whose No. 11 Toyota led five laps. “In today’s racing, it’s harder than ever to be able to come back. It’s virtually impossible to be able to come back now no matter how fast your car is because everyone’s running wide open throttle. So it changes the race and where you’re going to finish.
“It’s up to us to play by rules that are given to us. Let’s be clear about that. We think we’re doing that. Sometimes, that judgment call doesn’t go your way. It’s been multiple times this year that we don’t know what we could do differently. We’re going to need that explanation to make sure we don’t do it again.”