Rick Hendrick on inspection issues: ‘We’re going to clean our stuff up’
CONCORD, N.C. — Team owner Rick Hendrick has questions about NASCAR’s inspection process after many of his cars failed to pass before qualifying recently, but the message he plans to deliver to his teams is clear.
“We’re going to clean our stuff up,’’ he said. “If 30 other cars or 28 make it through, we should make it through.’’
Three Hendrick Motorsports cars — those of Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. — were among 11 cars that failed to pass inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt last weekend at Kansas.
Three Hendrick cars — those of Chase Elliott, Kahne and Earnhardt — were among nine cars that failed to pass inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt last month at Texas.
No other organization had as many cars fail to make a qualifying attempt at those two tracks.
“If we’re that close to the line, then we need to back off,’’ Hendrick said Tuesday at the opening of the Axalta Customer Experience Center on the Hendrick Motorsports campus. “We don’t want to have to go through that.’’
Hendrick, though, does have some questions about the inspection process and the Laser Inspection Station.
“It’s amazing, like the 88 made it through the laser and passed,’’ Hendrick said of Earnhardt’s team at Kansas. “(NASCAR) didn’t like a clamp somewhere and they go back around, fix the clamp and don’t pass. So I don’t know how you pass one time and don’t pass the second time.’’
He wasn’t the only one confused. Earnhardt also expressed puzzlement on Twitter.
Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that it is “conceivable” that a car could pass the Laser Inspection Station and then be off the next time by.
“It’s hard to explain, it would take an hour to kind of go through all the technical things about the process, but it is conceivable if they’re .01 of a degree to the good that the next time they’ll be .01 of a degree outside of the good.
“Every piece of measurement equipment has a tolerance that it can work in and they seem to think that this thing should be absolute when no measuring equipment is absolute. It’s just one of those things. They’re trying to get to the edge. We’re trying to make sure we have a level playing field.’’
The penalty for not making a qualifying attempt is to start at the rear of the field. Some wonder if that is enough of a deterrent in light of so many cars not getting through. Not Hendrick.
“When you don’t get to qualify and you start in the back, that’s pretty severe I think,’’ he said.