NASCAR changed the rules of the game – again – but this time for the better. One of the stupidest rules to govern pit stops has been the “arm’s length” rule. A tire coming off during a pit stop had to stay within an “arm’s length” of a crewman, generally a tire changer, or there would be a pass through penalty.
One of the challenges of this rule has been, whose arm length? How does NASCAR judge that from a video feed? It is purely subjective and like many NASCAR rules it has drawn the ire of fans and crew alike.
Fortunately, NASCAR has decided that it is time for that rule to go away. Now the tires just need to be under control, not rolling into traffic or bouncing or being thrown. While that is better, I still see some room for interpretation and hence angry teams.
NASCAR will still be the arbiter of what is considered “traffic”. The new rule doesn’t say the tire can’t enter pit road, the general area cars drive on that is outside the pit box, just not into traffic. Watch for that, I expect some discussion on the interpretation of traffic. Pit stops happen incredibly fast and cars leave even faster. What is under control one second may not be the next. Ands I literally mean the next second.
Secondly, tires by nature bounce. I have seen may tires get bounced a bit on there way to the behind pit wall team. I really don’t expect to see anyone throwing a tire. Another area that may be open to subjectivity.
NASCAR likes to keep the rules a bit subjective I think. Otherwise we’d have less controversy and what is NASCAR without rules controversy?
While NASCAR ended one silly rule they created another with a rule stating that during a 4 tire stop, outside tires need to be changed before inside.
Obviously this was created ahead of Watkins Glen but why does NASCAR care which tires are changed first? The only thing I can see is that if a team changes inside tires first, the crew may be exposed on the outside with cars exiting pit lane. Heck, that happens now during a 2-tire stop vs. a 4-tire stop. They really haven’t improved the safety conditions that I can see but someone thought up a rule that was looking for a reason to exist.
(Photo courtesy of NASCAR Media)