Here’s the original story from www.jayski.com with my thoughts to follow after the triple asterisks.
Stewart says lug nut rule is a safety issue UPDATES: #14-Tony Stewart is “beyond mad” with NASCAR over the sanctioning body’s lack of lug nut enforcement on pit road, the driver/team owner said Wednesday. NASCAR stopped requiring teams to put all five lug nuts on its wheels at the start of last season, part of a new pit road technology initiative that also saw a reduction of its officiating force. With officials no longer in every pit box, NASCAR said it was up to the teams whether they should put all five lug nuts on the wheel or not. But teams have been pushing the limit by only securing as few as three lug nuts, creating an epidemic of loose wheels in the sport. And Stewart said it’s only a matter of time before that ends badly. “I guarantee you that envelope is going to keep getting pushed until somebody gets hurt,” Stewart said. “You will not have heard a rant that’s going to be as bad as what’s going to come out of my mouth if a driver gets hurt because of a loose wheel that hurts one of them. With all the crap we’re going through with all the safety stuff, and for them to sit there and sit on their hands on this one … this is not a game you play with safety and that’s exactly the way I feel like NASCAR is treating this. This is not the way to do this.” Stewart said NASCAR overall has done a fine job on safety — such as mandating safety changes to superspeedway cars in technical bulletins — but said “in this one particular area, they are totally dropping the ball and I feel like really made a grossly bad decision on.”(USA Today)(4-21-2016)
UPDATE: NASCAR has fined Stewart-Haas Racing driver and co-owner Tony Stewart $35,000 for violations of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book, the sanctioning body announced Thursday. Stewart’s fine falls under Section 12 of the rule book, specifically member conduct guidelines. According to Section 12.8.1, actions that could result in a $10,000-$50,000 fine include disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership, or verbal abuse of a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc. Stewart announced earlier Thursday that he would return to the #14 Chevrolet this weekend at Richmond after missing the first eight races due to injury.(NASCAR.com)(4-21-2016)
UPDATE 2: The Sprint Cup Drivers Council released a statement Thursday night on Tony Stewart’s punishment from NASCAR, supporting the three-time champion and announcing it would pay his $35,000 fine. The statement was released exclusively to NBC Sports through Drivers Council member Denny Hamlin. The statement reads:
“We as drivers believe Tony has the right to speak his opinion on topics that pertain to a sport that he has spent nearly two decades helping build as both a driver and an owner. While we do not condone drivers lashing out freely at NASCAR, we do feel Tony was in his rights to state his opinion. We as a Council support him and do not agree with the fine. Therefore, we fellow council members have agreed to contribute equally to paying his fine.”
The Drivers Council was formed last year and meets periodically with NASCAR to discuss various issues from competition to safety. It added Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch this year to a group that included returning members Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Stewart, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano.(NBC Sports)(4-22-2016)
I don’t agree with the fine either. Tony was addressing a safety issue. I, myself also worried when they stopped policing lug nuts. You really need all five on there to keep the wheel on. They’re going too fast and if a tire falls off at one of the high speed tracks, then the car spins right into the wall and other drivers. There will always be risk in racing, but if you have all of these safety measures, why not use all of them as they were designed. You can still have fast pit stops and hit all 5 lug nuts on each tire.
Maybe foreshadowing a future rant was not the most tactful thing, but talking about safety is never disparaging to the sport.