TALLADEGA, Ala. — A “stupid mistake” by Furniture Row Racing caused a stir Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, but it appears to be a case of much ado about nothing.
NASCAR confiscated a front jack bolt from Martin Truex Jr.’s car, which created talk in the garage about a points penalty that could damage Truex’s chances of advancing to Round 3 of the Chase.
But NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller later indicated it was “unlikely” to result in a points penalty.
Truex ended up winning the pole position for Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 after the infraction was discovered, and crew chief Cole Pearn said putting in the wrong jack bolt was completely unintentional.
“I know people like to think we’re brilliant geniuses that have malicious plans to cheat the system somehow, but sometimes we’re just stupid and make mistakes,” Pearn said. “That’s really just what happened and hopefully it doesn’t turn into anything more than that.”
Pearn said the team was changing a spring on Friday and grabbed a 5.5-inch screw instead of an 8-inch screw. That ended up lowering the center of gravity on the left front of the car, which likely wouldn’t help the team.
The story was originally reported by Motorsport.com, and Pearn was upset with the report for saying the jack bolts were hollow — which he said was false — and would result in a significant points penalty.
“All the crazy talk going on today I think is nonsense,” Truex said after winning the pole. “People speculate on things and don’t know what they are. It wasn’t hollow like was reported. No big deal at all.”
Said Pearn: “I wasn’t really worried about it until somebody wrote a story about it and turned it into a big deal,” he said.
In addition, NASCAR pulled three of four Joe Gibbs Racing cars off the grid and made them go through inspection again during qualifying. The move was unusual, but inspectors spotted some manipulation with the decklids and wanted to check, Miller said.
All three cars passed inspection again.
“It wasn’t big,” Miller said. “It never is. But we pride ourselves on trying to do a good job. It doesn’t have to be big to be an infraction. It just has to be fair for everybody.”