NASCAR announces change to uncontrolled tire penalties

On Wednesday, NASCAR redefined specifics in the rule book to clarify adjustments with how officials will declare an uncontrolled tire violation during pit stops.

“After discussions internally and with competitors and teams, NASCAR will adjust how we officiate the uncontrolled tire rule to focus on preventing a safety hazard rather than concentrating on the subjective ‘arm’s length’ criteria,” NASCAR said in a statement.

The original judgment call of “arm’s length” will no longer apply, and is set around three cornerstone evaluations.

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  • Tire(s) cannot roll into traffic lanes of pit road outside of the designated team’s pit box;
  • Removed tire(s) do not return to the outside half of the pit box;
  • Tire(s) are handled in a safe manner, avoiding instances of bouncing or throwing tires.

NASCAR also made additional clarifications that any tires removed from the car during pit stops may not exceed the “proximity limits” to other pit boxes as noted in the NASCAR Rule Book. This new rule will take effect immediately, applying to the upcoming races at Pocono Raceway and Iowa Speedway for NASCAR’s top three national touring series.

“This is something we’ve been looking at for some time over the last year or two,” said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s Vice President of officiating and technical inspection. “The evolution of the pit stop has changed over time. There was a time when we needed to officiate that call based on an arm’s length.

“We have reviewed that numerous times and looked at it and feel like, in coordination with working with the teams, the timing is right to go ahead and remove that part of the rule from the rule book. We will continue to officiate uncontrolled tires. They still have to be controlled from the outside half of the pit box to the inside half.”

Another concern NASCAR addressed and made changes to was mandating outside tires to be changed first. Watkins Glen is quickly approaching the schedule, and since teams usually change the right side tires first at 37 races throughout the year, one race was the exception with pit wall on the opposite side. One strategy teams were considering was to continue changing right side tires first, which would then become the “inside” tire during pit stops at the New York road course.

For safety reasons, NASCAR regulated this and informed teams that if they elect to change four tires, the pit crew must change the outside tires first.

“This is something we’ve been working with the teams on,” Sawyer said. “They came to us and they had been looking at changing the inside tires first, and Watkins Glen would have been the first event that they would have been trying to do that.

“Through the collaboration, through some additional conversations, we felt like that going forward starting at Watkins Glen, for all four-tire stops you’d have to change the outside tires first. That’ll go into effect across all three national series and at every event starting at Watkins Glen next week.”

The penalty for uncontrolled tires remains the same: a pass-through penalty during green-flag runs or dropping to the rear of the field when under caution.

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