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Johnson neutered by NASCAR UPDATE #3 Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, was on “Tradin’ Paint’’ on Sirius Satellite Radio’s NASCAR Channel on Tuesday afternoon and talked about the pit road and speeding.

One of the questions he was asked is how NASCAR calculates pit road speeding and why GPS isn’t used to determine it.

Here’s what Pemberton said on “Tradin’ Paint’’ …

“What we do is we feel like it’s in the best interest of the competition to do time over distance. You used to see the state police hanging out on the exit ramp and he’s got a stopwatch and there’s two lines that are painted on the Interstate and he knows to run 60 miles an hour, whatever that distance is, it should be (for example) 4 seconds when you go through there. He knows 4 seconds equals 60 miles an hour. If you got through there in 3.5 seconds, he knows that you’re running 68 or 70 miles an hour.

“We do it electronically the same way. We’ve got these zones that are 200-foot long or whatever they wind up being at different race tracks. We’ve got electronic loops that are embedded into the surface and it goes off the transponder, the same transponder (in the car) that we use to score the race.

“When it goes through there, and say it’s a 5-second segment, it calculates how fast that speed is … and it spits out a number whether it’s 30 miles an hour or 50 miles an hour, whatever the calculation winds up showing.

“The reason we do that is because that way it’s an average over a longer distance. It gives the competitor, if they think they’ve screwed up, an opportunity to maybe check up a little bit in between loops to make sure the average comes down.

“If you were to do it (with) GPS, you made a mistake and got the wrong number and all of a sudden you realized it, it’s instant. The minute that number flashes up 35 miles an hour, if you were only running 35 miles an hour for 5 feet, you’re going to get busted. So, we’ve done this purposely to give the advantage to the competitor to adjust every opportunity they can to not make a mistake and not get busted on pit road.’’

04/06/11 I completely believe Johnson was over the line and his speeding penalty was warranted.

But Johnson is still absolutely correct.

While I’m not making allegations in any way that NASCAR somehow manipulates these times or challenging the integrity of the sport, why not eliminate any doubt by making this information public?

From a fan’s perspective it’s another way to raise the sport’s credibility by making this process transparent. No cloak and dagger, no behind the curtain conferences, no hiccups in the execution. Post the number and if it exceeds what’s been established as the limit bang – penalty assessed.

In this age of technology there’s no doubt in my mind this can be done. And in this age of fans salivating for every piece of information and data they can get their hands on, the move would be a total win-win for NASCAR.

I love watching a baseball game and knowing the pitch count of the guy on the mound. Or following rebounds and assists in real time during a basketball game. Numbers enhance any sport’s enjoyment factor and in NASCAR’s case it would cement home it’s credibility at the same time.

There’s an argument that by broadcasting these speeds it provides an unfair advantage to other teams and disrupts competitiveness. I don’t buy that from a sanctioning body that has always preached about an open garage. Or one that allows teams to openly “eaves drop” on other team’s radio communications via scanner.

NASCAR has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years by opening itself up to fans and allowing the sport to grow simply by providing more access. It’s time the next step is taken and the mystery of pit road speeding to disappear [Editor's Note: Unless of course NASCAR does want to manipulate the results.] CBS Sports

04/05/11 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, typical of NASCAR not to allow teams to see speeds on pit road live.  They don't have transponders in the cars either so they can computer generate the grid if they want to and no one would have any concrete evidence that it was going on.  Debris cautions at opportune times.  The list is endless.  All this leads people like me to believe NASCAR manipulates races (God forbid if Johnson were to win yet another title).  I call it managed racing to produce the results they want.  And people actually pay money to see this malarkey?  Mordichai Rosen, LA, Calif

04/05/11 Jimmie Johnson apologized on Tuesday for ripping NASCAR for what he believed to be a bogus speeding penalty on pit road Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson called out the governing body during his post-race interview and again on Twitter after the penalty left him with an 11th-place finish that left him one short of tying the NASCAR record for the most consecutive top-10 finishes at 18.

On Tuesday, Johnson said he was mistaken, that the timing segment that NASCAR accused him of speeding through was different from what he believed during the race. "The fact is we were wrong," Johnson said. "I was referring to a segment I knew I couldn't get busted in. At the end of the day it wasn't the segment we were busted on."

Johnson said he shouldn't have made the comments without all the correct information, although he said NASCAR could take care of misinformation by making pit road speeds instantly available for drivers and fans to see. NASCAR says it has no plans to do that. ESPN.com

If the pit-road segment times were broadcast live for everyone to review, it would eliminate this finger-pointing,” Johnson said on a national teleconference Tuesday. “At the end of the day, it’s probably not good for me to climb out of the car and call NASCAR’s credibility into [question]. I apologize to NASCAR for that.

“But when you’re dealing with only part of the information in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to react.”

NASCAR uses a somewhat complicated method of determining pit-road speeds. Pit road is divided into segments by timing lines, and drivers must spend a minimum amount of time in each segment – the amount of time it would take to go through the segment at pit-road speed plus a 5 mph tolerance.

Drivers tend to speed up and slow down within a timing zone to get the most out of their pit stops, especially in the zone where their pit stall is located. So teams choose their pit stalls based on where the timing lines are located, and qualifying results determine the order teams choose their pit stalls.

“It’s competition among the teams – and that competition begins with your qualifying effort [to pick stalls],” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said in a statement. “Teams know where the threshold is. We shouldn’t have to display each team’s speeds to the other competitors to let them figure out the other teams’ strategy.”

Johnson said the credibility issue should be considered more. Typically when a team gets a penalty, NASCAR will give the crew chief their pit-road speeds in every segment. But at the end of races and on short tracks, sometimes there isn’t time to relay the information to the crew chief.

So Johnson didn’t know where he sped until Monday. All he knew when he got out of his car Sunday was that he came out of the pits second, had to restart in 12th with 29 laps remaining because of the penalty and ended up 11th in the race. He said that NASCAR didn’t like the way it looked as he got in and out of his pit box, so it penalized him.

“In a world of black-and-white that we live in right now, we are all looking for that transparency,” Johnson said. “If I were them, it would be a smart move to make to eliminate this. We have this controversy once every month, once every couple of races it comes along.

“If we have that data instantly, as NASCAR is reviewing it, it would be cool to add another level of information for the fans to digest and it would eliminate people like myself on Sunday … making comments in a way probably harming our sport and the credibility of our sport.”

In the segment of his pit box, Johnson was shown only going 8 mph, according to the NASCAR data given to Hendrick Motorsports. He was caught speeding in a segment before he got to his pit box.

“The comments were made without all the information,” Johnson said. “The fact of the matter is we were wrong. I was misinformed and was referring to a segment that I knew I could not get busted in. At the end of the day, that wasn’t the segment we got in trouble on.”

At least two drivers who questioned NASCAR’s credibility were fined last year. Johnson said he has not heard from NASCAR, which puts all fines in the NASCAR Foundation coffers.

“If I’ve got to pay a fine, I’ll pay it,” he said. “I feel like I’m entitled to my opinion, right or wrong. … If I said something where I have to pay a fine, I’ll pay it.

“It is what it is. I just hope they put my money to good use.”

Johnson also said that he likes having the timing zones rather than trying to put telemetry on the cars that would give NASCAR a driver’s pit-road speed at any moment.

“It would make pit road tighter, put much more emphasis on the pit stop alone, it would take out the rewards of qualifying well because it won’t matter where you pick on pit road unless you have an opening,” he said.

“You would have from four to seven good pit stalls where now you have quite a few. We are in a situation now where there is more opportunity to pass on pit road, and I think that’s good. It has it’s ups and downs.” Scenedaily.com

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