Speeding penalties confound Cup drivers
A plethora of new scoring loops in the Pocono Raceway pits threw many Sprint Cup stars for a loop Sunday.
There were 22 speeding penalties in the Pocono 400 as drivers struggled to match their tachometers correctly to 60 mph (the limit was 55 mph with a 5 mph buffer) in the 10 zones on the repaved track's new concrete pit road. NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said a sector was added this season, and many were shortened for consistency.
Many of the penalties for breaking the 60 mph speed limit (plus a 5 mph buffer) occurred in the final sector, which Pemberton said was the shortest at 83 feet. Most zones are about 200 feet.
"Typically when you see short sections at the end, you have a tendency to get a rash of speeding penalties," he said. "It takes less of a mistake to make a bigger impact on your speed average."
That's because NASCAR measures pit speeds by an average of time and distance and not in real time.
Pemberton said there also were tweaks made to gearing rules that also potentially could have increased the propensity for speeding. Because NASCAR doesn't allow speedometers, drivers measure their pit speeds by the gauge showing their engine revolutions per minute.
Several drivers, though, intimated the penalties were caused by a problem with the timing loops. Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson suffered the ignominy of being busted twice — the second time when he was serving a pass-through penalty for the first penalty.
"There is a segment where something is just not like it normally is," Johnson said. "There is something wrong with the timing loop. Normally when we hit the orange line, we go, and I did that the first time we got nailed. The second time I waited until the (car) was over (the line) and got nailed."
Instead of the normal griping over the race distance (Sunday's event was the first at Pocono race slated for less than 500 miles in 37 years), radio chatter was filled with drivers in total disbelief they were over the speed limit.
Among the other offenders were Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski, who said there was "plenty of evidence. More at USA Today