Six cars did not make a qualifying lap at Kansas Speedway because of issues in the inspection line, and it’s becoming a frustrating topic for NASCAR.
Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development officer Steve O’Donnell said as much Monday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. O’Donnell repeatedly emphasized how the sanctioning body does not want the narrative to be around technical inspection but instead the racing on the track.
And, as teams continue to take to the media to complain about how “this isn’t right,” O’Donnell said NASCAR will push back because they believe in the system.
“You’ve heard me come on and say we’ve got the most talented engineers in the world working on the race cars and we believe that, and it’s certainly frustrating because it is on the teams to present their cars for inspection,” said O’Donnell. “It’s become the equivalent of a Kris Bryant [of baseball’s Chicago Cubs] coming to the plate with a bat that you can’t use and the umpire says you can’t use that, comes back with a bat you can’t use and the umpire says it again, and then the third time says you can’t make your plate appearance, and the batter runs to the media and says I can’t believe they did this.
“At some point, it gets frustrating on our end and at some point, we’ve got to get the teams to be able to show up and get through tech inspection. It’s the same every week. It’s one of those things that most teams are able to do it. We’ll continue to look at our system and make improvements where we can but this is now something that the fans aren’t getting what they want to see and we’ve got to fix that, for sure.”
Inspection issues have become common mostly at the 1.5-mile tracks where aerodynamics are a large variable.
Penalties during race weekend for inspection issues range from losing practice time, starting position and even having a crew member ejected. Asked when NASCAR would look to increase penalties, O’Donnell said he felt that had already been done.
“And it hasn’t seemed to work,” O’Donnell continued. “I think we’ll go back and look at it collectively and continue to focus on the teams that are doing it right and really make that be the narrative. Where we can make an adjustment we certainly will; the last thing we want to do is to penalize any team, we don’t want that to be the narrative.
“We want the narrative to be around the racing product. Kevin Harvick certainly dominating on track. Noah Gragson going out there and becoming a star before our eyes, and those are the things we need to collectively concentrate on and be talking about.”
The talk this week will be around the rear window of Kyle Larson’s car. Found to be dented during Saturday night’s race, the No. 42 was taken to the R&D Center for further inspection – and that area has resulted in penalties already this year.
“We see that [there’s] claims of damage but in talking to our folks, I’ve never seen damage cause that,” O’Donnell said. “So certainly, we’ll go back like we always do and thoroughly inspect the car. It’s an area we continue to focus on because the teams know they’ve found something there.”