It’s a given that a smart NASCAR crew chief will push the limits of the rules – and find loopholes in existing legislation wherever they’re available.
Between seasons, however, NASCAR has gone a long way to close a loophole in the inspection process. This year, if a car fails at any stage of pre-qualifying or pre-race inspection, the team must take the car back to the garage, return to specifications and start the entire process over again.
Last year, a car simply had to repeat the station it failed, the Laser Inspection Station (LIS), for example.
“Teams would go across the LIS, and purposely fail, so they would go off to the side and ‘em up on jack stands,” said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR vice president, officiating and technical inspection. “Not only would they fix the LIS issue, then they’d completely rebuild the top of the car and aerodynamics.
“So we’d only send them back through the LIS. OK, as a competitor, you do that, and we have to react this way.”
Even with the new procedures in place Sawyer thinks crew chiefs will continue to push the envelope – at least initially.
“I think they will,” Sawyer said. “They will have to see how much teeth we’re going to put into it. If we do what we’ve said – which I know we will – then we’ll see.”