Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Kyle Busch's late rally thwarted by NASCAR pit road speeding penalty...and he's not happy about it

Yes, the pit road chaos is colorful and exciting....but maybe NASCAR needs to rethink some things, in order to improve pit road safety (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Well, let's just see how much frustration Kyle Busch can take, without blowing up.
   That seems to be the situation this spring for the sport's best driver.
    Just when it appeared Busch was ready to pounce on Mark Martin in the final moments of Saturday's Phoenix 500, NASCAR stepped in and hit Busch with a pit road speeding penalty – no details were provided.
   And instead of restarting second, right behind Martin, with six laps to go, Busch was ordered to the rear of the pack. He wound up an angry 17th.
    "We came here with a new set-up, and we weren't the best car, but we made a huge improvement from last year," Busch said.
    "We didn't want to see that caution come out at the end. The guys had a great stop…and NASCAR said we were too fast exiting in the last pit stall, and it killed our day."
    By midway Busch – who is less than half as old as winner Mark Martin – had worked up to fifth. That was an improvement certainly at a track where he has not exactly shined. This place requires finesse with the brakes, and Busch is not a finesse driver, to say the least.
One lap later, Busch and the rest of the race leaders dove to pit road for tires.  On that stop, the quick work of the M&M’s pit crew propelled Busch to second-place as the field exited the pits. 
   Crew chief Steve Addington was frustrating: "They said we were five-thousandths too fast leaving pit road.  What are you going to do?
    "You have to go to the back and get what you can out of it. 
    "We didn't have the best racecar, but we had a lot better racecar than we've had here in the past couple of races. This is the first time we ran this set-up, so we'll look forward to coming back here in November."
   When the championship itself will be on the line.
   Just where NASCAR caught Busch speeding was unclear. Busch himself insisted he was door-to-door with Tony Stewart leaving the pits, so if he were speeding, so was Stewart.
    So eight races into the 26-race regular season, Busch is seventh in the standings, 216 points down to leader Jeff Gordon.

Good Ole' NASCAR

Be careful, Kyle. More of these will be assessed if you question or badmouth the almighty NASCAR. I never understood how someone could be assessed a speeding penalty on pit road and the car riding right beside them (Stewart in this case) at the same speed, was not. .005 Seconds too fast? Now that's picky, especially when these guys do not have a speedometer in the car. I'm assuming that's .005 seconds over the tolerance level they allow? In the old days when speeding penalties were first issued but not done with electronic loops, you would see people get passed on pit road and the passer would not get the penalty when it was obvious they had to be speeding. I just get the feeling this would have been overlooked with some drivers. The moral of the story: don't get on Nascar's bad side even if you are the best driver on the track.

If NASCAR is going to call

If NASCAR is going to call speeding penalties, it should show exactly where and how the violations took place. it should offer black-and-white proof. and it should have a list of all pit road speeds by everyone on every trip down pit road -- the technology is right there in the black boxes. anything less will leave Nascar officials open to criticism just like this. let's see the instant replay.

Pit Road Safety

Hi, Mike.

In the caption under the photo, you say that NASCAR should "rethink some things, in order to improve pit road safety". The article does not expand on this thought.

I think the "all tires and equipment to the left side of car" rule has really helped. I remember many races before that rule when tires would aimlessly bounce down pit road. I also like the speed limits and helmet rules.

I can't recall any serious injuries on pit road recently. I often wonder why no one gets hurt by flying lug nuts, especially during night races when I see the sparks underneath the tires as cars peel out of pit road.

What things would you improve?


good point...i will make it a

good point...i will make it a point at talladega to talk with crew guys about what suggestions they might have....thanks....

Aero Adjustments

Thanks, Mike.

This question has nothing to do with this topic, but since I have your attention, I'll run it by you.

When NASCAR introduced the CoT, I recall hearing that the splitter and wing are adjustable. Wickers can be added to the wing and the angle can be changed. The splitter can move forward and back. However, I haven't heard anything more about this.
Are these devices adjustable? Can crews make the adjustments mid-race during pit stops? What are the rules NASCAR sets for wing angles, wickers and splitter positions (other than height)?
Perhaps while you're talking to crews this week, you could ask these questions for me.

Oak Creek, WI

don't think the rear wing is

don't think the rear wing is legally adjustable -- uh, guess we could ask tony eury jr. but, to be honest, why not: remember the 1988 daytona 500, when bobby allison had his crew push his rear spoiler down almost flat, for more speed, at the expense of handling, and that was just enough to beat son davey, in one of the sport's greatest finishes. why cant teams raise and lower the spoiler during the race? it would make for pit road adjustments, and give the crew chiefs option. that's what i'd vote for.
the front 'splitter'? well, i still think it looks flat stupid. it's an insult to real stock car fans. put some real front bumpers back on these cars. but yes there are some minor adjustments that can be made, but i think most teams come to the same point of view each weekend.
i would prefer nascar open up the area under the front bumper, so teams can't just drop the nose all the way to the pavement (for better cornering aero). God made shocks and springs to be shocks and springs; and I think the Devil created bumpstops.

Some Pit Safety Suggestions

Mike, here are a few to consider -

1 - STOP CLOSING PIT ROAD WHEN THE YELLOW COMES OUT. Nothing has made pit road more risky than the policy, now 20 years old, of closing pit road when the yellow comes out. It came about because of a pace car/scoring controversy between Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip at Atlanta in March 1989. Before NASCAR began closing pit road, mass pitting was less frequent than it is today, with leaders and top-ten cars frequently diving into the pits as the yellow was flying and thus resulting in a natural staggering of pitstops.

2 - NO PIT SPEED LIMIT, SIMPLY REQUIRE CARS TO COME TO A FULL STOP IN THEIR PIT BEFORE ALLOWING PIT CREWS OVER THE WALL. The myth has long held that cars were speeding too fast on pit road, yet it wasn't a safety issue until NASCAR began closing pit road. Pit speed limits are an example of safety used as cover for the sanctioning body to seize more control of the racing. We haven't seen any credible improvement in pit safety in the now-18 years we've had pit speed limits, as shown by such infamous pit crashes as Texas and Homestead in 2001 and Talladega in September 2003 (involving Elliott Sadler and Jeff Green). What NASCAR should be doing is requiring a car to come to a complete stop in its stall before allowing crewmen over the wall.

3 - FIVE-LAP PENALTY TO CARS THAT STRIKE PIT CREWMEN. This will dissuade the practice of brushbacking that's been going on in pitstops for years.

I've discussed here on

I've discussed here on mikemulhern.net that very point, of opening pit road whenever the yellow comes out, instead of letting the field bunch up. it just makes sense. and it would add an element of chance and unknown to the race -- which this sport could sorely need right now. excellent point.
but the pit road speed limit i think is one of the best things nascar has ever done -- it is a great safety innovation....
and if nascar were really serious about safety it would make pit road bigger and wider at Dover and Martinsville and Bristol....no excuses.
i also think nascar could do well to consider a rough-driving on pit road penalty, to force these drivers to take a second thought before running somebody out to the grass....
but then pit road would be a heck of a lot safer today if there were more passes out on the track itself. the race track is made for racing, and that's where the action should really be.

Based on past experience, you

Based on past experience, you will criticize NASCAR no matter what they do. As I recall you were one of those most outspoken about NASCAR's making judgment speeding calls - now electronic calls are not enough unless NASCAR keeps detailed records of every car's trip down pit road and makes such available to the media. I'm still waiting on seeing the NFL have film of each and every holding call on the line. Human visitor.

that's silly -- i've praised

that's silly -- i've praised nascar for its safety work for years, and the pit road speed limit is one of the best moves nascar has ever made...the list of accomplishments by nascar, i agree, tends to get underplayed, in the rush of current events -- so i plan to do a story listing the great moves over the years: maybe you can give me some help, pick some issues. today's nascar is the most professional nascar i have ever seen, from top to bottom, with more solid talent in more positions than ever. it really is an amazing transformation from the small band of brother who used to have to run this sport almost by the seat of their pants.
that said, my job -- and i've said it before -- is to be the cop on the beat, rattling doorknobs, checking back alleys, shining the flashlight in hidden corners.
and as far as pit road speeding goes -- drivers used to be scared that if they spoke out too strongly they'd get a black flag or pit road penalty. today, i'm much more convinced that pit road speeding calls are generally fair -- you can't catch all the speeders, certainly. but when a driver protests, and the race itself is on the line, nascar should be able to provide details -- it obviously has them at its finger tips eletronically and computer-digitally. come to think of it, doesn't the nfl try to show replays of most penalties?
oh, and i guess you wouldn't really be a proponent of my long-standing view that NASCAR race track officials should be completely independent of the sanctioning body.
thanks for reading -- and keep me honest -- if you don't like something i write, speak right up. like mike helton says 'in this sport we've got to have broad shoulders.'
mike mulhern

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com