NASCAR vp of competition Robin Pemberton believes changes to pit road timing loops at Pocono may have caught a few teams by surprise, following a massive 22 speeding violations during Sunday's Sprint Cup race.
A number of drivers, including some of the top runners, were subject of drive-through penalties during the Pocono 400, the first race at the venue since the 2.5-mile track got a new surface, including modifications to pit road. Pemberton said many of the changes may have caused the usual number of penalties but clarified teams had all the information at hand before the race to know how their time and thus speed would be calculated when going through pit road.
"This is a brand-new pit road – it's not the same length as it was a year ago," said Pemberton. "The sections aren't the same as they were a year ago. The racetrack's been paved, all-new concrete boxes, pit road is been paved and sometimes you run into situations like this. But the maps, the distances are here for the teams to pick up throughout the weekend when we go in, as they are every week and every racetrack that we go to.
Sunday's pit road speed limit was set at 55mph, plus a 5mph buffer NASCAR allows. Average speeds are calculated based on a competitor's time through each sector the pit road is split into, of which there were 11 this weekend. The last timing sector was the shortest and reportedly the most problematic as it was there were many were measured above the limit.
Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was caught twice above the limit and was left confused as to what the cause of the problem was.
"There is something wrong with the timing loop, and the [timing] line and the way the drivers interact with that," said Johnson. "Normally, when we hit the [timing] line we go, and I did that the first time we got nailed. The second time I waited until the tail was over and got nailed. We'll look into it and see what happened."
Pemberton speculated that besides the longer pit road and modified timing sectors, a change on transmission gearing may have also been in a factor. However, he ruled out there was anything wrong with NASCAR's timing and scoring system.
"Sometimes when we know there are short sections in the end we will typically highlight that, remind them," said Pemberton. "[Race Director] David [Hoots] did over the radio and we do in the driver's meetings and remind competitors that typically a short section is tough."