NASCAR to evaluate current lug nut rules in wake of driver comments

RICHMOND, Virginia – Even though Tony Stewart was fined by NASCAR for saying he was mad at NASCAR for its current rules regarding lug nuts, his comments could help spur the sanctioning body make changes to the way it officiates tire changes during a pit stop.

NASCAR Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said Friday that the sanctioning body is re-evaluating the current rules regarding the fastening of wheels to the car. While the NASCAR rule book has provisions for penalties against teams who don't fasten a wheel to a car securely, it currently doesn't mandate how many lug nuts teams must fasten to a wheel.

"We've had the same rules on lug nuts for the past two seasons and the rules have been pretty clear and until this point never really had too much trouble," Miller said. "But obviously there's been strong rules in place, pretty severe penalties associated with the rules that are in place since the drivers are now questioning it, it's time for us to kind of re-evaluate our position and work with the community on looking at possibly different ways to enforce the pit road rules."

No timetable was given for any potential changes – Miller's press availability was just over five minutes as a NASCAR spokesperson said Miller needed to communicate with teams about the topic. Stewart was fined $35,000 less than 24 hours before Miller appeared in the Richmond media center, apparently because series officials deemed his remarks were disparaging to the sport.

As Miller noted, if a wheel comes off a car during competition, a crew chief can face a four-race suspension per the rule book.

Loose wheels have forced many teams to pit road during the recent Sprint Cup races at Texas and Bristol. As teams are fastening less than five lug nuts to wheels in an effort to save time, the wheels aren't sometimes fastened securely to the hubs. If a wheel isn't fastened securely, the wheel starts to vibrate and a driver hits pit road upon feeling that sensation.

Stewart said he believed a driver could eventually get hurt if a driver ended up crashing because of a loose wheel. He was not the first driver to talk about the lug nut rule; Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had previously expressed their opinions on the topic.

"The teams are being very aggressive with [lug nuts] and it's been brought up as a concern," Miller said. "And when any of our competitors raise concern it's time to take a bit of a harder look at it."

The lug nut rules changed after the 2014 season when NASCAR moved to a different officiating system on pit road. Prior to 2015, NASCAR had officials stationed on pit road near each stall to look for violations, including those involving lug nuts. Now, NASCAR officials are stationed in a trailer and watch each pit stop via high-definition cameras positioned to view pit road.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!