Defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. will be starting from the rear of the field for Sunday’s Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. That is for certain; whether he will have crew chief Cole Pearn is still up in the air.
The No. 78 car didn’t turn a lap in NASCAR qualifying Friday. That’s because while the rest of the 35 cars passed NASCAR’s new optical scanning station, the No. 78 team failed three times. The optical scanning system, OSS, is new this year. It replaces three inspection stations. Last year it wasn’t unusual to have several teams still in inspection when qualifying kicked off.
The new OSS with its go/no-go measurements, has made the process much faster, and it seems much tougher for the No. 78 to pass.
Under the new rules for this season, three failures mean NASCAR could eject the team’s car chief; four failures and the crew chief is ejected.
Facing the possible ejection of crew chief Cole Pearn If they failed a fourth time Friday night, the team elected to skip qualifying. And according to NASCAR the clock is reset, meaning they will start last Sunday but have three more chances to pass the OSS Saturday.
“NASCAR’s new inspection process is just that … new,” said Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing. “The tolerances are very tight, within thousandths of an inch. It’s difficult to push the limits where you feel you need to and still be within the tolerances of the new system. One thing we won’t do is leave anything on the table and expect to get poles and wins. We will always push for the maximum.”
“We had body scan problems on the rear wheel openings, and we had rear toe failure as well,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition. “It was a combination of those three times through, and we just didn’t get a green light.”