The big story at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the issues with technical inspection. That seems to be the story once again at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as teams are once again running into issues. All of the drivers were through qualifying inspection before the session started, except for J.J. Yeley. However, Yeley was able to get through as the session started.
Brad Keselowski had gotten through inspection, though was pulled back to inspection as the session got started. Matt Yocum reported on FOX Sports 1 that Kerry Tharp, NASCAR’s Communications Officer, told him an official saw a crew member off of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team messing with a fender. Keselowski would go back through qualifying, getting back out to the track and set to qualify with about nine minutes left on the clock for round one.
As of 6:30 p.m EST, about an hour and 20 minutes before qualifying, only 18 cars had made it through as many teams were finding themselves having issues with the left rear toe under the laser inspection.
The back-up at tech pic.twitter.com/Tvp2WPwZnk
— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) March 7, 2015
There were also technical inspection issues with the XFINITY Series, as drivers missed the beginning of practice due to still being in inspection.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Almirola said. “Whether less officials or issues in technical inspection, but we just weren’t through tech yet. It’s making it harder on everybody. There’s only been a handful of drivers that have gotten on the track anyway.”
Last weekend, technical inspection issues at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend caused 13 drivers – highlighted by Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Regan Smith, Tony Stewart – to miss qualifying as a result of not getting through pre-qualifying technical inspection in time.
When it came to race time, the race scheduled to start at 1:16 pm EST, though would start at 2:13 pm EST due to rain.If the race had started on time, though, there would have been drivers that would’ve missed the start of the race. AJ Allmendinger, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, JJ Yeley, Josh Wise and Kevin Harvick were still going through inspection. By the time the race started, though, all of the drivers were through inspection.
“NASCAR right now, they’ve got a group of officials,” crew chief Chad Knaus commented after winning the race with Jimmie Johnson. “Once the inspection process begins, they kind of separate. We have some in the Nationwide garage, some in the Cup garage. Maybe they’re a pinch understaffed in getting their rhythm figured out. I think our wheel offset was off a little bit. Maybe our skew was off a little bit with the alignment of the rear-end housing.
“When we rolled out of the garage for qualifying inspection, there was really only an hour left before qualifying was to begin. The whole day was kind of slow. I think once everybody gets familiar with what their jobs are, I think that will start to get faster, go faster, where we won’t have this much of a backlog. It’s difficult to do that. NASCAR is trying to provide a level playing field for everybody, but it’s something that needs to be addressed.”
As a result, NASCAR announced on Thursday, March 5th an adjustment to the opening day schedules for Las Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway as a result of issues with pre-qualifying inspection a week ago. Sprint Cup Series practice was scheduled to last an hour and 25 minutes, but now will last an hour and 15 minutes, while qualifying for the three events will take place five minutes later. As a result, it would allow 15 more minutes of time for teams to get ready for inspection and for officials to get the cars through inspection.
Sprint Cup Series Competition Director Richard Buck addressed the media following qualifying last weekend, saying that they made sure to allow each team to cross the inspection at least once and were able to do that.
“I think we saw different areas where the teams were pushing the limits to get through it,” he commented. “We’ve got a new rules package here, and obviously the history of Atlanta and the grip is so important here, I think we’ve seen that with the test yesterday, teams getting to the limits, and we were open yesterday for all day on the laser inspection station and templates and such, and we had quite a few cars that came through. We did see the area of the laser inspection station where teams were pushing it, and that’s their job. They’re trying to get every bit that they can.”