uncontrolled tire

Denny Hamlin’s team to present video evidence in uncontrolled tire penalty


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.”

NASCAR executive: ‘Can’t judge intent’ on uncontrolled tire penalties

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An uncontrolled tire penalty has raised the issue of intent regarding pit road penalties between Denny Hamlin and a senior NASCAR executive.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said uncontrolled tire penalties can’t be judged on intent and are present for safety reasons. Hamlin fired back on social media, criticizing NASCAR for a rule introduced last year that reduced the number of pit crew members on teams and resulted in “40 guys” teams “laid off.”

The issue began Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway when Hamlin was called for an uncontrolled tire penalty early in Stage 2 on Lap 105. The penalty resulted in Hamlin having to restart at the rear of the field.

On Twitter, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver called the penalty a “nickel and dime judgement call” and that “this intent is not why the rules was put in place.” Hamlin added that he wanted to see the sport “go back to using common sense.”

O’Donnell responded to Hamlin’s comments Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

“Well, you can’t judge intent,” O’Donnell said. “If a part breaks or anything in the car, if we had to judge intent really on almost any penalty, we’d be in trouble. That’s why we have a rule book and it’s black and white and we’ve been through those things. It’s in place for safety reasons. We’ve been consistent on those calls all year. I think we’re looking at some things around the new car that we can do down the road. We certainly don’t want to be in the rules business or too many rules. But on that case it’s one where we’ve got to make that call.”

Hamlin responded on Twitter, referencing the 2018 reduction of over-the-wall pit crew members from six to five.

While Hamlin said the uncontrolled tire penalty “ruined” his day, it was the first of two penalties the No. 11 team received Sunday. It was followed on Lap 163 with a penalty for too many crew members over the wall.

After winning Stage 1 of the race, Hamlin went on to end the night in 15th.