By AMANDA VINCENT
NASCAR Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell, during a discussion on “The Morning Drive” show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday, said that NASCAR is looking at ways to limit communications between suspended crew chiefs and their race teams during race weekends.
The discussion comes on the heels of a one-race suspension of Furniture Row Racing crew chief Cole Pearn. Pearn was placed on probation for a roof-flap issue discovered during Daytona 500 front-row qualifying at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February and then was suspended for one race after a similar roof-flap issue discovered during pre-race inspection for the next race on the schedule at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 team originally appealed the suspension, and as a result, deferring Pearn’s suspension from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway. Pearn served his suspension at PIR after Furniture Row withdrew its appeal.
Despite not being allowed by NASCAR to be at the track at Phoenix, Truex acknowledged during the PIR weekend that Pearn would be in close contact with the team. That contact was not against the rules of his suspension.
“The old policy of ‘you’re suspended and you can’t be there’ has probably served its time,” O’Donnell said. “As we go forward now, obviously, we never want to have to suspend someone; we’re going to have to look at the technology.”
Furniture Row Racing is, by no means, the first team to keep in contact with a suspended crew chief through means, including but not limited to, phone calls, text, social media, e-mail, etc.
But even if rule(s) is/are passed to limit contact between suspended crew chiefs and race teams, O’Donnell acknowledges it/they would be hard to enforce.
“It’s very difficult to police, but you could have, almost, a no-contact rule,” O’Donnell said. “That would be hard to police, but we could put that in place. It is something we’re looking at. We wanted to see how Phoenix went, and we’ll kind of evaluate what teams are doing with all the technologies that they have in place and see what we can and can’t monitor on a fair manner and go from there.”
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