Larson questions NASCAR on Jimmie Johnson’s lack of pit penalty

Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin' the Tires

By Jerry Jordan, Editor
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – This past weekend when Jimmie Johnson’s crew serviced his car outside the pit box during the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway because they hadn’t tightened all of the lug nuts, he was not hit with a penalty but that leniency by NASCAR wasn’t appreciated by fans, who lit up Twitter with fairness concerns, or by some drivers, including Kyle Larson.

“I don’t think it is right, you know, NASCAR’s kind of excuse from him not having a penalty,” Larson said, during a break from testing at Martinsville Speedway on Tuesday. “I would like to see NASCAR just use the rule, you know, make us back all the way up to our pit stall like the typically do.

“I think they said him losing spots on pit road was already a penalty in itself but not really because if he would have gotten the penalty that he deserved he would have been behind the lapped down cars and everything. So, I don’t think it was the right penalty. And, I would hope that it happens to us or anyone else, they would do the right thing.”

A NASCAR official said they were more concerned about Johnson’s crew getting the lug nuts tight on the car than they were about holding him a lap or sending him to the back of the pack – either of which could have applied under current rules forbidding work being done on the car outside the pit box and having equipment outside the pit box.

“He is going to have a slow stop,” said Kurt Culbert, NASCAR’s managing director of Integrated Marketing Communications. “He’s trying to make an attempt to get back in the box and we want to get that lug nut on, that is paramount in that situation.”

Culbert also clarified that it wasn’t the first time NASCAR had allowed teams to tighten lug nuts sans penalty despite their car not being confined to the pit box. In fact, he said, it happened to Johnson two weeks ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Following the race, Johnson confirmed that he had been told previously that tightening lug nuts would not result in a penalty if he wasn’t fully inside the pit box.

“A couple of weeks ago weeks ago in New Hampshire, we had something similar to that happened and they (NASCAR) informed us that does not count as equipment outside the box, so I was going off Chad’s (Knaus) cue to stop and put the lug nut on and off I went.”

For his part, Larson said he is fine with NASCAR’s view of the situation but hopes they make it clear to teams that this is what the rule will be going forward.

“I say follow the rule,” Larson said. “But as long as they keep it that way and it’s not a judgment call, I guess.”

Culbert said he believes NASCAR will clean up the wording of the current rules in the off-season so there is a better understanding of NASCAR’s decision of putting safety ahead of penalties that impact a team’s competitiveness on the track.

“We look at everything in the off-season, as you know, and this is one because this has happened multiple times this year I am sure they will want to clean it up,” Culbert said. “But, yeah, it’s understood right now that we would much rather have them go out on the track with all their lug nuts safe and secure than have to worry about trying to penalize them what essentially becomes two penalties.”

One Comment

  1. Linda Via

    October 10, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    I am with Kyle Larson, no I don’t pull for him, if it had been any other team except JJ, who is trying to win his 8th champship,they would have given a penalty, they have been handing out penalty for this & on top of this he had already done it before. Nascar is showing particularly that’s not right

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