As NASCAR seeks a way for cars to drive back to pit road on flat tires, series officials will have drivers stay in their cars and be towed to pit road this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR used that policy last weekend at Auto Club Speedway. This is not viewed by competitors as a permanent solution because of the laps a driver loses when towed to pit road.
Austin Dillon says something needs to be done.
“It would really suck to end your race trying to miss a wreck and having to spin and having flats,” he said.
Dillon suggested that without changes, it could lead to a safety issue. He noted that drivers might try to go through accidents instead of spinning to avoid them and risk having flat tires, which would cause them to lose laps waiting on a tow truck, being hooked to the truck and then towed to pit road.
The issue with the Next Gen car is that it sits low to the ground. Combined with the larger wheel, there’s no room for an inner liner, which was used previously and allowed cars to drive back to pit road on flat tires. Once the tires are flat, the Next Gen car rests of the bottom of the vehicle and can damage or destroy aerodynamic components there.
Joey Logano, who was stuck on flat tires after spinning in the Daytona 500, offered an idea this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“We should have a AAA truck that goes out on the racetrack when cars spin out and have flat tires … and they change your tires right there on the racetrack, so you can get to pit road, instead of trying to hook it to a tow truck and dragging everything off the bottom of the car or pushing me,” he said. “Daytona was horrible. It was horrible for me.
“This is how I went crazy. I spun out missing this crash. Tires are flat. I didn’t hit anything. I’m OK. I’m stuck, and then the tow truck comes behind me. He starts pushing me up the racetrack I go, and I get stuck again. Now, the ambulance is behind me and I’m stuck. The ambulance won’t move. No one knows what is going on. I back into the ambulance. Now I’m stuck again.
“Here comes the tow truck again. Tow truck is trying to push me, and now I’m just going to turn through the (infield) grass because I can’t go two-and-a-half miles on these wear blocks (on the bottom of the car). The car is not even moving. I start going through the grass and everything is OK. Here comes Kurt Busch down pit road and the tow truck stops so it doesn’t put me into him, which was great.
“Now the tow truck can’t push the car anymore because he doesn’t have any momentum. He’s spinning his tires behind me. He backs up, and now he starts ramming me. … It just kept getting worse. Now I’m three laps down … because I had a flat tire. So yes, I went bonkers for a little bit.”
NASCAR is continuing to have discussions with teams and suppliers on possible solutions to this issue.
NASCAR will keep the tolerances the same for the pin and pilot bores the next two weeks at Las Vegas and Phoenix.
NASCAR confiscated tires from RFK Racing and Team Penske two days before the Daytona 500 because of changes to teams made to the wheels. Both teams stated they had made safety modifications to the drive pin holes to ensure the wheels securely attached.
NASCAR did not penalize either team, stating that it “made small adjustments to increase the upper tolerance on pin and pilot bores for (Auto Club Speedway).”
Series officials stated they would reevaluate the matter with suppliers and race teams and determine a path forward following last weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway. The decision to extend the current regulation to Phoenix gives NASCAR more time to find a solution.
Kaulig Racing has appealed the penalty to the No. 31 team of Justin Haley for having a wheel come off in the Daytona 500. That is a four-race suspension for the crew chief and the two crew members who had their hands on that wheel.
NASCAR has yet to schedule the appeal as teams go back and forth from the West Coast to North Carolina during this three-race swing.
Front Row Motorsports announced Wednesday that it will appeal its penalty for a wheel coming off Todd Gilliland‘s car last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.