Sunday, April 12, 2015

Who does a driver have to trust? 'The tire guy' says Dale Junior

   NASCAR this season stopped policing whether lug nuts were loose or missing on tires during pit stops. Instead, the sanctioning body has left that duty to the teams, although a team can face a serious penalty should it lose a wheel during the race. 

   However, the first person who knows whether a team made a mistake is the driver and Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, several were forced to make unscheduled pit stops for missing lug nuts or loose wheels.

   Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke at length after Saturday night's race about the dilemma teams find themselves in on this issue and the trust drivers must place in their pit crews and particularly those who change tires.

   "I think we all were a little worried when NASCAR said we were going to have to police it because that's just a big change from the norm and what we've done in the past. The question is can we police ourselves? NASCAR doesn't have the officials on pit road to do it anymore, so they made a change and put it on our laps. You've got understand how serious a situation is," Earnhardt explained.

   "You get out there on the race track and we got the corner speeds are 18 miles an hour faster in the middle of the corner, and if you lose a wheel going that fast, it's not going to be very good. So you have to have guys that are up front and honest that you trust. If your tire guy done makes a mistake, if he makes a mistake and raises his hand and says 'Look, man, I made a mistake,' you catch it right then, right under the caution, you get it fixed, you get a chance to get back going. Otherwise if you don't speak up, you get a bad vibration, the driver is going to come in, and he ain't going to knock his head against the fence out there when you think the tire is coming off and you lose a lap. Then you're in big trouble.

   "It's a bit of a process, but I think that the guys, the tire guys that are honest and feel confident about I got them tight or didn't get them tight, that's the kind of guys you want coming over the wall to help you. You need them guys looking out for you the same way you look out for them."