During Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson’s team secured lug nuts on his car while his 48 car was outside of the pit stall. Johnson and his team weren’t penalized, which left some drivers confused after the race.
Kyle Larson, who has a bit of a rivalry with Johnson, disagreed with NASCAR officials and thought Johnson should’ve been penalized.
“I’m sure Jimmie and their team would agree … they didn’t follow the rule,” Larson said. “I would like to see NASCAR just use the rule, make us back all the way up to our pit stall like we typically do. I know I think they said that him losing spots on pit road was already a penalty in itself. Not really, because if he would have gotten the penalty he deserved, he would have been behind the lapped cars.
“I don’t think it was the right penalty. I would hope that if it happens to us or anybody else they would do the right thing.”
Larson and Johnson don’t particularly like each other, so it’s not surprising that Larson isn’t pleased about Johnson avoiding penalty. But Larson isn’t the only one who had an issue with the decision.
Denny Hamlin, who founded the Cup Series’ Drivers Council, decided to raise the issue in a text chain with NASCAR executives Steve O’Donnell and Scott Miller. Hamlin told reporters that both executives gave them an explanation as to why Johnson wasn’t penalized.
“I had questions along with many other drivers,” Hamlin said. “So I went to our Driver Council texts, and Miller and O’Donnell both explained it the same way as they did everyone else. I thought for sure it was a penalty, but I can also see sometimes you’re gassing the car as the cars are rolling through the pit stall, and that’s not ever a penalty.
“I think it’s kind of a judgment call. The way they explained to me is that they chose for it not to be a penalty; not that anything is written black and white in the rulebook about being able to secure lug nuts outside the pit box.”
Johnson, Hamlin and Larson are all trying to qualify for the Round of 8, and they likely want to ensure that the 7-time champion doesn’t get any advantage over them with only two more races to go in the Round of 12. It probably should have been a penalty, but it’s certainly in a gray area.
(h/t NBC Sports)