Denny Hamlin said Joe Gibbs Racing team officials will be meeting with NASCAR at some point today to discuss uncontrolled tire penalties.
Hamlin was penalized for the infraction last weekend in Chicago. After having to go to the rear of the field, Hamlin said he endure the challenge of trying to fight through the pack with the new aero package and also damaged his car while battling for position. He finished 15th.
“I think the team officials, they’ve showed me emails that they have prepared of multiple pit stops, just from last week, that are identical or more egregious than ours, and nothing gets called,” said Hamlin. “Is it just because they just so happen to be looking at you (that) you get judged, or whatever it may be. It’s hard for me to believe that inside the system it flags you when a tire is not moving.
“It just seems like wherever their eyeballs are at on that particular stop is who gets especially looked at. But we have multiple video evidence of other pit stops from other race teams that are identical. You cannot draw a difference between them and no penalty. So, that’s my compliant… it is a judgement call. It’s not black-and-white. There is no line. It’s not a line that gets crossed.”
Hamlin would like to see the penalties changed this season, and argued it doesn’t just affect his team. To the Cup Series veteran, an uncontrolled tire is when the tire rolls across pit road, and not when it is sitting inside the pit box.
A tire is considered to be uncontrolled when a crew member is not within arm’s length of the tire. A tire also cannot roll into another pit box. Pit road violations are monitored through the officiating trailer, with each pit stall watched via high-definition cameras.
“I don’t know what they can change, but certainly would like to see a change,” said Hamlin. “I think rules have to evolve, and this is not about us in particular. I made a comment (on Twitter) and it’s got 3,000 likes, 500 retweets, 300 comments, so it touches the fan base. These are people that aren’t Denny fans; they just don’t get it. If they don’t get it at home, then it’s probably not a rule that needs to be in place in the Cup series, because you can’t explain it to them.
“It’s hard to explain when a tire is just sitting there that it’s uncontrolled. It’s not moving. It is controlled. I don’t know the answer, and I don’t know how to fix it. They’re pretty smart, and I’m sure they can make adjustments to fix it to make it a little more simple.
“But overall, everyone’s arms are a different length. So, what is an arm’s length? Do they have some kind of technology that says ‘OK this distance from the tire changer to the tire is more than an arm’s length ,and they can pull a measuring out and they can measure it?’ I don’t know, but that’s just too much rules. Too many things that can change the outcome of a race. We had earned our spot up front.
“That’s the crappy part about it – we earned our position up there and then you have to go to the back and in today’s racing, it’s harder than that ever to be able to come back. It’s virtually impossible to be able to come back now, no matter how fast your car is because everyone is running so much wide-open throttle. It changes your race; it changes how you are going to finish.
“It’s up to us to play by the rules that have been given to us, let’s be clear about that, but we think we are doing that. Sometimes, that judgement call doesn’t go your way and it’s been multiple times this year, that we don’t know what we could have done differently, and we are going to need that explanation so that we don’t do it again.”