NASCAR didn't penalize Jimmie Johnson after an apparent pit-road violation Sunday in the Bank of America 500 playoff race at Charlotte, and fellow championship contender Kyle Larson isn't too happy about it.
On a pit stop during a Lap 280 caution, Johnson's front-tire changer appeared to tighten a lug nut while No. 48 car was outside of his pit box, a supposed violation for servicing the car outside of a pit stall.
Instead of issuing a one-lap penalty, NASCAR said the No. 48 team noticed the potential safety violation immediately and corrected the issue. The time spent to back up and tighten the lug nut was penalty enough, the governing body said, much to Larson's chagrin.
“I don’t think it is right, you know, NASCAR’s kind of excuse from him not having a penalty,” Larson said at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday, via Kickinthetires.net. “I would like to see NASCAR just use the rule, you know, make us back all the way up to our pit stall like they typically do.
“I think they said him losing spots on pit road was already a penalty in itself but not really because if he would have gotten the penalty that he deserved he would have been behind the lapped down cars and everything. So, I don’t think it was the right penalty. And, I would hope that it happens to us or anyone else, they would do the right thing.”
Why Jimmie Johnson wasn't penalized for pitting outside his box. #RaceHub pic.twitter.com/fTF8lR92wR— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) October 10, 2017
“We’ve been calling this particular thing consistently the past couple years with the lug nuts,” NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, Scott Miller said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, via Motorsport.com. “The way we look at that is they did their normal pit stop in the pit box, he left, they realized they had a lug nut (issue) and at that point to us it becomes a safety issue.
“We allow them to put the lug nut on and the penalty becomes, they lost probably 10 or 12 spots during that pit stop. We let them do that because we want to make sure it is a safe situation out there on the race track.”
Larson, who sits ahead of Johnson in the playoff standings, hopes NASCAR will eliminate the gray area of pit-stall violations moving forward.
“I say follow the rule,” Larson said. “But as long as they keep it that way and it’s not a judgment call, I guess.”