Busted!

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Why are there pit road penalites and what are they?

Busted!

The pit road is a dangerous place during a race. NASCAR has strict rules in place that help to ensure that everyone remains safe. Crewmembers who go over the wall must wear fire retardant uniforms and helmets. When drivers enter or leave pit road they must maintain a safe speed. The pit road speed varies from track to track but is normally between 35-55 miles per hour. When you see the field doing their parade laps prior to the green flag, part of what they are doing is setting their pit road speed. The pace car will lead the field past pit road at the pit road speed mandated by NASCAR. Since NASCAR racecars have no speedometer, the driver uses the tachometer to set the speed according to his engine RPM's and the gear the car is in. NASCAR measures the speed on pit road electronically by measuring the time the car takes to get from one point to another.

If you listen to a scanner during a race, as a driver is coming down pit road the spotter or crew chief will sometimes remind them of the pit road speed by calling out the RPM's and gear. ‘3500, third gear' for example.

Most of the infractions on pit road are for speeding.

Teams can also be penalized for ‘pitting outside the box'. Each pit has a certain marked off area, if the car is over any of the lines the NASCAR official who is assigned to that pit, will signal the crew who can have the driver correct the mistake by moving the car. If they fail to do so, they will be penalized.

Teams can also be penalized for allowing a tire to roll free of their pit box, leaving a piece of equipment on the car, usually a wrench or catch can, or if the driver runs over the air hose entering or leaving the pits.

The punishments for infractions can range from being sent to the end of the longest line on the track, to a ‘pass through', where the driver is forced to driver through the pits at pit road speed to a ‘stop and go', where the driver is forced to come back in, stop completely in the pit box and then return to the track.

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