Rodney Childers suspended for Pocono
No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Rodney Childers, crew chief for the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet team of Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been suspended by NASCAR for Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., as a result of a lug nut being missing or improperly installed at the end of the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard, better known as the Brickyard 400, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 24. The penalty was announced Wednesday as part of NASCAR’s weekly penalty/warning announcement.
Childress also was fined $20,000 and placed on probation through Dec. 31. Stewart-Haas Racing has since announced that it won’t appeal the penalty. Dax Gerringer, a race engineer on the No. 4 team, will serve as crew chief at Pocono in Childers’ absence.
NASCAR returned to enforcing the proper installation of five lug nuts per wheel with the May 1 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway because of an uproar from fans and drivers, specifically from SHR co-owner and driver, Tony Stewart. NASCAR had stopped requiring five tight lug nuts per wheel at the start of the 2015 season with the introduction of the camera-based pit road officiating system that makes monitoring one side of the car difficult.
With the difficulty of monitoring one side of cars during pit stops, NASCAR has resorted to checking lug nuts on cars post-race. Under the old officiating system, when five tight lug nuts per wheel were required, lug nuts were not given consideration after races. Instead, penalties were handed down during races when NASCAR officials determined that cars left pit road without all their lug nuts tight.
When NASCAR announced in late April the inspection of wheels and lug nuts post-race, Childers predicted via Twitter he’d be suspended a week sometime during the season.
“All the years of hitting 5, and hardly ever was all 20 on post race. I will sit at home for a week at some point,” Childers (@RodneyChilders4
) tweeted April 25.
When the practice of inspecting lug nuts began at Talladega, crew chiefs were suspended weekly for nearly a month, but Childers is the first crew chief to be suspended for a lug nut issue in over a month.
NASCAR also issued several warnings for inspection issues during the Indianapolis Motor Speedway race weekend.
The No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team of Kasey Kahne, the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing team of Paul Menard and the No. 83 BK Racing team of Matt DiBenedetto received warnings for twice failing pre-race laser inspection.
Meanwhile, the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing team of Kurt Busch and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team of Aric Almirola received warnings for twice failing pre-qualifying template inspection.
One NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team also received a warning while that series was at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. the No. 22 Toyota team of Austin Wayne Self received a written warning because the truck’s trailing arms did not meet NASCAR specifications. The issue was discovered during opening-day inspection.