BREAKING NEWS – NASCAR has tire specialists sign form today – “No altered lug nuts” November 4, 2007Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Teams.
Hi all- my normal visit up and down pit road with the team guys this Sunday morning netted some interesting information that I thought you’d like me to post immediately.
NASCAR Asks Cup Tire Specialists To Confirm…….NO ALTERED LUGS
Budweiser #8 Tire Specialist Says Altered Lug Nuts Were Not on Car in Atlanta
Early this morning here at Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR officials took example lug nuts with threads altered that were on the Hendrick and JR Motorsports Busch cars yesterday and showed them to all of the tire specialists up and down pit road and in the NEXTEL Cup garage.
One tire specialist from each team was then asked to sign a NASCAR form confirming that they had seen the altered lugs and understood that if they used such lug nuts in the race today they would be penalized. I was told they understood that, among other penalties, their hard card access would be taken away if they used such lug nuts today.
Further penalties are expected from NASCAR for the Hendrick and JR Motorsports Busch teams, the No. 88 team with driver Brad Keselowski and the No. 24 team with driver Casey Mears. The two teams had to replace all of the lug nuts on the tires on the car as well as the on the tires in the pits after NASCAR had an issue with them having been altered. Some of the lug nuts had a thread turned out of them to make the pit stops faster.
I spoke with tire specialists from a half-dozen teams today who confirmed to me that utilizing lug nuts with less threads would make changing tires, especially in the Busch series (where the studs are longer) quicker. The tire specialists asked not to be identified but told me that lugs with altered threads is a common practice for teams in the pit crew competitions because it makes pit stops faster. Several specialists indicated using lugs with less threads would be a safety issue.
Naturally, the assumption by some in the garage is that altered lug nuts also could have been the reason that Dale Jr’s wheel came off last Sunday, causing a serious accident, during the race at Atlanta.
Ray Osian Tire Specialist for the Dale Earnhardt Incorporated Budweiser #8 car, told me such altered lug nuts were not the issue with the tire situation at Atlanta. “No, no, not at all,” Osian said this morning here in the garage at Texas Motor Speedway. ” Safety is probably one of the biggest things we’ve got…..Safety on this team is really, really important. I’s our first priority and that’s an area that we really don’t mess with. We didn’t have a problem our lug nuts (at Atlanta) we didn’t set it up different.”
Osian added,” I saw the lug nut (from the Busch race yesterday). The NASCAR officials actually went around the Cup garage with an example of one of the lug nuts where it had been worked on. All the tire specialists had to sign a paper saying that they saw it and you were caught today, Sunday, here in Texas if you were caught today with them – you were going to be penalized, but no we weren’t part of that program.
I asked Osian point blank if there was no altering the lug nuts on the #8 car at Atlanta.
“No, no. I can see where that the situations go back to back with each other and that kind of thing but no it wasn’t the same thing,” he answered.
What was the problem that caused Dale Earnhardt Jr’s car to loose a wheel? Osian told me that it was not a wheel problem. He said that he went to NASCAR during the test at Atlanta and asked for NASCAR to return the wheel which they did. He confirmed that it was not a problem with the wheel.
“The wheel was loose. We’ve got a guy – our guys that change tires they do a really good job. I mean when things go bad its always easy to – pick a guy out but that’s not the case in this. The guy is really good and we never have a problem with him and we win and loose as a team and that’s pretty much as simple as it gets.”
Osian’s statement, although not pinpointing one guy, indicated that the left rear tire changer did not sufficiently tighten all the lug nuts on the #8 car when the car was sent back onto the track at Atlanta. On lap 327 of the Pep Boys 500, the left-rear wheel came off of the Bud car while running in third position and Dale Jr crashed very hard in turn one.