We'd been hearing and reading speculation about teams manipulating tire pressures by drilling tiny holes in their tires to "bleed" them for several weeks. NASCAR took tires back to the R&D Center from several teams after the race at Auto Club Speedway, including the cars of Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. They were then sent for a further independent study.
NASCAR warned crew chiefs about messing with tires, saying tire offenses were some of the most serious in the NASCAR rule book and violators would be dealt with harshly.
And I guess they meant it. Ryan Newman's 31 car was nailed for tire alteration with NASCAR fining his crew chief, Luke Lambert, $125,000, suspending him for 6 races and putting him on probation until the end of the year. A tire technician and an engineer on the 31 were suspended and put on probation as well. Both Ryan Newman and Richard Childress were docked 75 points each. That knocked Newman from 6th in the point standings to 27th. It doesn't necessarily end Ryan Newman's Chase hopes but it is a real deficit to crawl out of, not to mention, a morale blow to the team.
RCR has announced that they will appeal the penalties so it is still possible they will be overturned.
What I wonder is whether this was really a more common practice than just Richard Childress Racing and my guess would be that it was. You might have suspected that it would be Kevin Harvick or Joey Logano, two of the cars that appeared to be consistently faster than anyone else at the track, that were getting a boost from tire pressure manipulation. Did some of the other teams just dodge a bullet as they watched Newman's team get burned? Could be. Kevin Harvick still did okay, coming in 8th, but the race ended a long stretch of top 2 finishes. Joey Logano came to the checkered flag in third. So, neither were far off their usual performance.
I'm not trying to impugn anyone's honor here but I can't help being curious if this was a shot across the bow by NASCAR to warn all the teams to knock it off.
As for the race itself, it was action-packed as Martinsville always is. There were lots of hard-fought battles going on throughout the field and quite a few lead changes as teams came and went. The ending was intense with Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski chasing each other at the end. It might be that Denny was lucky that Brad already had a race win in his pocket. If he hadn't, it likely would have turned out differently. Would Brad have turned Denny if it had meant a ticket to the Chase?
My drivers all went down one by one for various reasons. Jimmie finished laps down; Junior finished laps down; Chase Elliott finished laps down. Jeff was leading until he got a speeding penalty on pit road but, although he raced through the field like a maniac afterward, there wasn't enough time to make it up. He ended up finishing 9th. The bright spot for me was Danica coming in 7th, highest of the Stewart-Haas cars....not that it will make any difference to her haters but it made me happy.
And my other editorial comment about the weekend is: "damn, when there is no Xfinity race, Joey Logano comes down and steals the truck race".
nascar has taken the #4 tires after each race since vegas I believe and #22 couple times too.
harvick could have won the race if not finish top 2 or 3,he was just pinned on outside lane on restart.
they are just great drivers in great cars right now.
it makes since with rcr cars doing it and explains how newman finished 2nd in points last year in one of them rcr cars too.
the 2 Penske cars and the #4 have been bad fast almost everywhere.i believe its a driver/crewcheif/equipment combo working.
good reply Tombo
I guess the proof will be if Harvick and Penske continue to be faster than the others now that this issue has been reacted to.
Great comment Vicki. Every time Technology takes leaps in these race cars, the tire manufacture (in this case Goodyear) have not kept up. That's why NASCAR got after the teams to stop going so low in tire pressures(14 or less psi) from the advise of Goodyear. These tires are generating so much heat they become over pressurized. So the next step is bleeding a small amount out of the tire as pressures build.
Bleeding air out of the tires has been going on for a long time, by either bleeding through the wheel, valve stem, or the tire itself. RCR was not the only one doing this. Why did they go after Harvey, Logano, etc. first? My thought on this, someone seen something going on with these teams including Ryan Newman's. Just that the 31Team was caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
All the teams stretch the boundaries of the rules, and will continue to. Goodyear has an inferior tire for these cars and all the teams are try to optimize on this issue. I understand penalizing the crew chief/owner of the team, but the driver I don't agree, though I know it's a Team Sport. Well NASCAR, you got your Easter Bunny gift early, Ryan won't make you look like an Ass as he did last year.
One more thing. Do you really think Ryan will lay down on this? Ryan reminds me of AJ Foyt. When you piss off a bull, don't get in their way.
I hope all of you have a great Easter Holiday. All the best to you and your families.
May your driver do well this year and that we are all here next Easter, complaining or cheering about our teams.
We are NASCAR NATION we are a family.
At some point, it seems likely that NASCAR will start to allow some kind of bleeder mechanism to resolve this problem. That often seems to be what happens. Someone "cheats" to overcome a legitimate issue. NASCAR reacts and penalizes them but then works on its own to fix the problem.
not with the tires tho.the tire issue has been an issue since 1949.i don't see nascar allowing it.