Although NASCAR said it routinely has not penalized teams for securing a lug nut outside their pit box, as Jimmie Johnson's team did Sunday, a senior series official said Monday that not all teams might be aware that they can do that.
Johnson started to pull out of his pit box before being stopped by his team because of an unsecured lug nut late in Sunday's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
A NASCAR rule states that teams servicing a car outside its pit box are subject to a one-lap penalty.
A NASCAR spokesman explained after Sunday's race that officials view that as a safety issue and that Johnson endured a penalty with the slower stop to immediately fix the problem.
Monday, Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, discussed the issue on "The Morning Drive" on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
"It's funny that this has come up now because it's high-profile now that the playoffs, we've been calling that particular thing consistently over the past couple of years with the lug nut,'' Miller said. "The way we look at that one is they did their normal pit stop in the pit box. He left. They realized they had a lug nut and at that point to us it becomes a safety issue and allowing them to put the lug nut on. The penalty becomes they lost probably 10 or 12 spots during that pit stop. That's a penalty.
"We let them do that because we want to make sure that it's a safe situation out there on the race track. That's the way we've been calling it. We like to give the teams the benefit of the doubt if we can, especially when it comes to something that might create an unsafe situation. That's the basis for that call. It's interesting that it's so high on everybody's list today when we've been calling it for a couple of years now.''
--- NBC Sports ---