With the lug nut controversy coming to a head over the last week, NASCAR seems to be in some kind of PR nightmare, so to speak, even though the sanctioning body, in my opinion, is on the road to doing the right things with its lug nut rule announcement on Monday.
On Monday, the sanctioning body sent a bulletin out to race teams stating that it was going back to mandating five lug nuts be tightened on each wheel. NASCAR has acknowledged, though, that the recent tweak to the rule that calls for a $20,000 fine and one-race crew chief suspension for wheels found to have at least one lug nut missing after races is sort of a short-term fix. With the still relatively new PRO (pit road officiating) system, officials can’t monitor the changes of all four tires during pit stops, but NASCAR claims to be researching a long-term fix. Well, at least the sanctioning body is heading back in the right direction.
But what about that controversial Tony Stewart fine from last week? Several drivers had spoken up in recent weeks, critical of the demise of the five lug nut rule, but Stewart was the most vocal, and quite frankly, most blunt about it. As a result, he was hit with a $35,000 fine on the same days as the announcement of his return to competition as driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
Stewart did say that the fine wouldn’t stop him from speaking his mind in the future and his fine was $35,000 well-invested. Well, it looks like he was right about his investment, because it seems he caught NASCAR’s ear and a change was the end result. But should the rule change be the only return on that investment?
NASCAR put itself in hot water with the Stewart fine to being with when it fined Stewart for voicing his opinion, with that hot water made even hotter when you factor in that Stewart’s rant pertained to a safety issue.
Fast forward to Monday and the re-implementation, of sorts, of a five lug nut rule. It kind of paints Stewart as being right on the money, so to speak, doesn’t it? Looks like, in summary, NASCAR basically said, “You’re right, Tony. Thanks for pointing out the problem. But, even though you were right, since you criticized NASCAR, pay up.” It just doesn’t seem right, now, does it?
Should Stewart get a refund? At the very least, should he get an apology from NASCAR? Oh, what a tangled web NASCAR wove with this one.
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