The introduction of the Gen 6 car this season has brought with it some new equipment for the inspection process, namely the new laser measuring rig (see details and a photo here). The laser system helps NASCAR more accurately measure the chassis and things like where and how the rear end is located. But the implementation of the new process has not been seamless.
RPM2Night.com had a story on March 2nd about some of the difficulties with the system. In it, it was mentioned that Jimmie Johnson’s #48 was thrown out of the inspection line twice for adjustments before it finally passed inspection for qualifying on Friday at Phoenix. And his team isn’t the only one who has experienced this.
When cars are found to be out of tolerance, teams must get out of the inspection line, make adjustments, and get back in line. The new system measures the cars much more exactly, and it has been tougher for the crews to make minute adjustments to satisfy the system. As with Johnson’s car, some teams make adjustments and go back through, only to find they have more work to do. All of this takes time. Sometimes, a lot of time.
At Phoenix a few weeks ago, the pre-race inspection process took so long that some cars were still being pushed onto the grid while the National Anthem was playing. And for Las Vegas and Bristol, NASCAR opened the garage on Sunday a full hour earlier than normal.
One of the other problems facing teams with the laser system, is that nobody outside of NASCAR owns one. The systems are too cost prohibitive for the teams to build, and the teams won’t know for certain that their cars meet tolerances until they arrive at the track.
Debuting the new style car this season can only help the sport, but it’s clear that both the teams and NASCAR still have some kinks to work out.