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NASCAR executive cites ‘all kinds of safety issues’ as reason why bleeder valves not allowed

STP 500 - Practice

STP 500 - Practice

Getty Images

NASCAR executive Steve O’Donnell says the potential for “all kinds of safety issues’’ is a reason why series officials do not allow teams to use bleeder valves on tires.

O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, discussed bleeder valves Monday on “The Morning Drive’’ on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The topic of bleeder valves - which can limit how much tire pressures increase to give the car a more consistent ride - has gained attention recently with NASCAR’s penalties to Ryan Newman’s Richard Childress Racing team for manipulating tires.

NASCAR docked Newman and car owner Richard Childress 75 points each, fined crew chief Luke Lambert $125,000 and suspended Lambert, tire technician James Bender and engineer Philip Surgen six points races. (The team’s appeal is scheduled for Thursday morning).

Jeff Gordon has been a proponent of bleeder valves and reaffirmed his stance last month at Martinsville Speedway.

“I’ve been saying for years … that we need bleeder valves,’’ he said. “We just do. I came from sprint cars where they’re built into the wheel. You set them. They may not be advanced enough for what we need in a Cup car and Cup tire, but it just makes sense.

“It’s crazy what we do with air pressures. These big heavy cars build the air pressures up so much that we’re always trying to start them real low, which causes issues for Goodyear and the teams. Then they just increase, increase, increase. So it makes sense to me that we should have bleeder valves.’’

Fox Sports analyst Darrell Waltrip also has been a supporter of bleeder valves. O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that bleeder valves are not the best option.

“Darrell has been very vocal, but we wish he would talk to some of the team owners and some of the other folks in the garage, too,’’ O’Donnell said on the show.

O’Donnell said NASCAR is looking at a tire pressure monitoring system.

“That is something that we’re working on that could be part of the digital dash and basically showcase to a driver if a tire does have a problem, it would alert them on the dash,’’ O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Ultimately what will that do? Hopefully, that will save a car from being wrecked. We’d rather go that way than a bleeder valve, which potentially creates all kinds of safety issues.’’

O’Donnell also said that a digital dashboard in cars continues to be examined. Such a dashboard would help give drivers and teams as much information as possible and also share most of that with fans.

“So if you’re sitting at the race track, we want you to be essentially in Denny Hamlin’s car and be able to see what he is seeing,’’ O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s evolving, and it’s something that we think could be a real game changer for the sport in terms of us showcasing technology. Some really cool stuff potentially coming for ’16.’’

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Rule Book states that teams can begin using a digital display for any events after August 5. Teams must use a digital display dash beginning next season. The McLaren PCU-500N Digital Dash Display will be the only digital dash display permitted for competition.

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