The day one his crew chiefs was suspended for violation at Pocono Raceway, team owner Chip Ganassi repeatedly used the word “silly” with Claire B. Lang of SiriusXM NASCAR Radio when discussing the current lug nut situation in the Sprint Cup Series.
“They (NASCAR) come out with a rule, and then they sort of change it and no one really knows where we’re at with the whole lug nut thing,” Ganassi said on Dialed In. “Our lug nuts were at least on there they just weren’t tight. I think that’s sort of one level of the penalty, and it’s another penalty if you don’t have a lug nut on there at all. Everybody in the garage is sort of, I don’t want to say up in arms, but sort of confused about the whole lug nut thing. I think it’s silly.”
Chad Johnston was suspended for one race and fined $20,000 by NASCAR on Wednesday morning. Johnston will serve his suspension this weekend as the series visits Michigan International Raceway as Ganassi appeared to acknowledge the team would not appeal. He did not say who would act as the crew chief of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet driven by Kyle Larson, but that there are qualified individuals within the organization.
Larson finished 11th in Monday’s Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 at Pocono. He is currently 21st in the point standings.
“That’s the other thing, these suspensions you can have the guy on the phone, you can have him on the computer, but he can’t be at the track,” Ganassi said. “It’s kind of confusing to me. What’s the point of being suspended? You can probably suspend everybody on the team but the pit crew. It’s silliness. It’s complete silliness.”
NASCAR went back to mandating lug nuts after several complaints from drivers and teams, the most recent and outspoken being Tony Stewart. The sanctioning body had stopped policing how many lug nuts teams were installing after the 2014 season and in 2015 went to a Pit Road Officiating (PRO) system that uses HD cameras instead of officials monitoring each pit stop.
With no policy in place, teams began looking for ways to save time during stops by either not gluing on all five lug nuts or not tightening all five. Following a safety outcry, NASCAR informed teams they would go back to mandating not only the use of all five lug nuts but they had to be secure, and failure to comply would result in a penalty.
Johnston is the fourth crew chief to be suspended for a violation since the update in April.
“I like to stay out of that sort of stuff. I just want the playing field to be level among all teams, and as long as that happens, I’m OK. I guess I have to take it on the chin a little bit with the penalty and our crew chief being suspended, but I think the whole lug nut thing is a silly thing,” Ganassi said when asked where the sport should go regarding pit stops.
“We’re in a major sport that on any given weekend we have over 100,000 people show up and watch, and it’s the most watched sport on television sometimes on the weekend and we’re sitting here talking about lug nuts. Are you kidding me? Please. They move to the conversation to something a little more relevant than lug nuts.”
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