NASCAR deals with Martinsville, RFK violation, Ty Gibbs penalty

NASCAR will be looking to make changes before the Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway in October, a series representative told SiriusXM NASCAR radio.

The moves are made after last weekend’s lackluster cup race there.

NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller addressed this issue, RFK Racing’s infraction and Ty Gibbs’ penalty on “The Morning Drive” Wednesday morning.

Various factors made for a tedious cup race, including temperatures that plummeted to 39 degrees during the event and made it difficult for the tires to set rubber on the concrete at corners. When rubber is laid on a track, it forces drivers to change lanes. That didn’t happen.

As drivers became stuck in one lane, they rode back-to-back more often and experienced aerodynamic conditions. Also, the constant shifting reduced the difference between good and bad cars, which also contributed to the difficulty in overtaking.

TIRE TEST WILL TAKE PLACE

Miller said series officials have spoken to a “fairly wide cross-section of drivers” and others, including Goodyear, about potential changes.

He said there will be a tire test for Martinsville later this year. No date was given. There is an organizational test in Martinsville on August 23-24 for cup teams. The cup race there is on October 30th.

“It’s great to have an event at night, it has a certain flair, but I think the cold temperatures, like a cold night, is definitely more of a challenge than anyone understands,” Miller said. “I think that helped a little over the weekend. We’ll just continue to collect everyone’s input and make some decisions next time we come back.

SHIFT AT MARTINSVILLE

Miller also addressed the issue of in-race shifting after drivers said the gear ratio needed to be changed.

“It would require a different (gear) ratio to effectively eliminate shifting,” Miller said. “Even if we had top gear at exactly the rpm everyone wanted, it was certainly a bit low, there might still be a desire – if we had some tires to slow the pace – maybe to shift later the run, but it wouldn’t be every lap. We look at all of these things.”

AERO QUESTIONS

Miller was asked if he was surprised to hear drivers talking about aero issues at the half-mile circuit.

“I don’t know if we were really surprised to hear that,” Miller said. “I think that was a common theme no matter what race car we had.

“This car behaves differently on the road than the others. Some things about the way it behaves are better, other things I think the teams and drivers are getting used to.

“A real part of the design process was to make the wake behind the cars smaller and we certainly achieved that. All drivers find that being offset to either the left or right of the vehicle in front is much, much better than the old generation of cars.

“Right now where they are fighting is right behind the other car trying to figure out how it all works. That was feedback I got from one of the top riders that I rely on for feedback and I think that’s a common thread.

“It’s just one of those deals that we’re not surprised about. There’s always an airflow. It doesn’t matter what kind of car. Maybe it was a bit more than they thought. Martinsville is one of those places where there’s a fair amount of chasers right behind the car in front of you, which seems to be the area where you’re most worried about the wake.”

RFK RACING PENALTY

After the deadline for RFK Racing to file an additional appeal against the penalties imposed for a change to a single source item on the car, Miller spoke up on the matter.

In Martinsville, RFK co-owner Brad Keselowski said the penalty was for a repair to a tail fairing that was not completed to NASCAR’s satisfaction.

“The repair policy is very straightforward, each repair performed is intended to bring the part back to original specification,” Miller said. “At this point, that was not observed. There were body attachment landings that are part of the rear fascia and have not been restored to original specs. This is an important design feature of the part. The repair policy was not followed. That’s what really matters, a critical dimension of the part has been changed.

“As we worked through with the teams what the next generation car was going to be on this long journey, one of the things was that the single source parts have to be strictly enforced or we’ll be right back where we were with the other car with constant development.

“A strict deterrent model was demanded by the people in the garage. It’s our job to do that. We said we would. A key design element was not restored to its original specification and that led to the penalty.”

TY GIBBS PENALTY

Miller directed the $15,000 fine to Ty Gibbs for hitting another car on the pit lane. Gibbs and Sam Mayer were not penalized for their fight in the pit lane.

“It’s certainly not a situation that we like or that they want to deal with afterwards,” Miller said of the fight. “One thing about our sport, I think one of the things that I think is appealing about it is that it’s full of emotion, high adrenaline, high emotion.

“A lot happened there at the end of the race and some feathers got ruffled. One thing we’ve definitely been careful about in the past is not bumping into people after the race – and especially not bumping into cars on the pit lane when spectators are around.

“That was really what got us on the most post-race alert. We spoke to both drivers in the trailer afterwards, brought them together and kind of felt good about those conversations – it wouldn’t manifest between the two along the way. That’s how we saw the situation there.”

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