NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 7, 2018
We're joined this evening by Scott Miller, our senior vice president of competition, and in just a moment I'm going to turn it over to Scott and he's going to share with you a little bit more information about the penalty that we announced for the No.4 team today.
With that, Scott, I'm going to turn it over to you.
SCOTT MILLER: All right. As everybody knows, we issued a penalty for the 4 car today, and the penalty notice, which I'm sure you all got, it was spelled out that the splitter or the spoiler did not meet the CAD file. The spoiler is a piece that is bought by the teams from a single‑source supplier. It has a part number from Richardson. It has a CAD file that calls out the profile of the spoiler, and the overall shape and where all the mounting holes are in the spoiler.
This particular spoiler did not conform to the CAD file. There's two things that when you're talking about a spoiler that contribute to improved aerodynamic performance, and that would be the height of the spoiler. That was correct on this one, and it would be the offset of the spoiler in relationship to the center line of the car. This one was moved to the right.
Getting the spoiler further to the right actually‑‑ when the car goes into the corner and sees yaw, that puts more air on the spoiler, and that's definitely aerodynamic performance.
We found this back at the R&D Center when we matched up the spoiler to the CAD file, which basically is just a stock part that every team can buy, and it didn't match up. That's what put us where we are today.
Q. Scott, when you say it did not conform to the CAD file, a lot of people in the industry are saying that they made their own spoiler. Is that what you're saying?
SCOTT MILLER: So the fact that‑‑ whether they made their own or they modified the stock piece is kind of irrelevant in this case because it didn't match up to the CAD file. We believe this to be a manufactured part, but that's a separate manufactured part by them. But like I said, if they would have modified a standard one, the penalty is the same. I mean, it's‑‑ that has to be a spec part, and it wasn't. Whether it was modified or remade kind of is inconsequential in this case.
Q. There's been a lot of questions on if NASCAR could have penalized more than 40 points in this instance, considering Harvick had gained 60 in the race. Were you locked into 40 as the maximum, and if so, would there be anything to look at in the future to maybe be able to penalize as many points as they earned in a race?
SCOTT MILLER: You know, we're actually looking at a lot of different things in the off‑season in regards to the deterrence model, all the way to‑‑ I mean, we've heard the fans kind of call out for, why don't you disqualify the offending car, and I mean, that's actually a topic of discussion along with many other things related to the deterrence model. You know, stiffer penalties at track and for failing inspection and for‑‑ a lot of different things on the table.
With any of those, there's a lot of things to work through and a lot of things to consider, especially when you kind of get to the disqualification level or something like that. You know, like there's a lot of knockoff effects from that as to how the rest of the field shakes out and all that.
But certainly points, deterrence models, fines, suspensions, all that stuff is always on our plate during the winter. We always review what has happened in the current race season and always are looking to improve that process.
Q. And will you make any change to inspections of spoilers this week? Will you take them off cars at all before?
SCOTT MILLER: It's a shame that we have to, but yeah, we plan on doing that.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how it was that the infraction was noticed post‑race so that‑‑ kind of explain a little bit why it wasn't seen or detected during pre‑race inspection or the at‑track post‑race inspection.
SCOTT MILLER: Well, one of the‑‑ so it did get noticed at track post‑race inspection, but since that car was coming back to the R&D Center‑‑ it didn't get noticed in that we knew exactly what it was, but there was something that one of the inspectors saw that kind of made them a little bit suspicious, and that's why we took it off when the car got back to the R&D Center.
Q. Just for further explanation on that point, something offset, whether it's just visually, it seems like you might be able to see it maybe pre‑race or the OSS machine. Can you just explain why you can't‑‑ if it's offset to the right, different from other cars maybe, why are you not able to see that, or are we just talking a minuscule amount?
SCOTT MILLER: Well, little amounts actually‑‑ it's not something that you would just walk by and go, oh, my gosh. I mean, we're not talking a matter of several inches or something like that. But what everybody has to realize is like subtle differences, a quarter inch, a half inch, three‑eighthsofan inch, an eighthofan inch even, when it comes to aerodynamic performance in that area, it all means something. It's not something that by any means would stick out like a sore thumb. It's definitely something that you would have to take a little bit deeper dive to see.
Q. Obviously given the time of year, the playoffs, the high stakes and things like that, with Homestead coming up, what are the procedures for Homestead, and how can you guys ensure that whoever wins the championship won't be in a situation like this where three days afterwards or four days afterwards it turns out that they had something wrong with their car?
SCOTT MILLER: Well, we‑‑ as Homestead approaches, and even now when we're down to eight championship contenders now, soon to be down to four, the level of scrutiny that goes into those cars and the amount of time that we really spend keeping an eye on everything with those cars, knowing that so much is on the line, we can do and concentrate on those cars a little bit more than we can the 40‑car field during the regular season. So we'll just ramp up the intensity of keeping people with eyes on those cars throughout the weekend and scrutinize those cars heavily, both before and after the race.
In the case of the spoiler here, we'll be looking at the spoilers. It's unfortunate that‑‑ it's unfortunate that, like I said before, it's unfortunate that now we'll be pulling spoilers off and having to do another inspection when the teams should really be bringing legal cars to the racetrack and we shouldn't have to necessarily do that inspection all the time. But those four cars will be scrutinized more than‑‑ as the field gets pared down, we can concentrate more on the cars that are in the hunt for the championship.
THE MODERATOR: We do complete post‑race tear down at the track in Miami after the championship races, much like we do after the Daytona 500; isn't that correct?
SCOTT MILLER: That is correct. The engine and the car will be scrutinized there. Homestead could potentially turn into a Sunday‑night issue, but it certainly won't be the middle of the week. And I think we will be able to have eyes on those cars with all these little things, and the other stuff with crush panels and leaking air and all the different things that the teams try to manipulate, we can keep eyes on those things and see things quickly at pre‑race, post‑race, all of those things at Homestead. We feel good about the process.
Q. Can you say or will you say how far off that it was?
SCOTT MILLER: I mean, this is‑‑ getting into this level of detail about what the team has done is something that we really haven't done, but let's say between 200 and 300 thousandths. That's a pretty narrow window.
Q. You've got three cars back, and all three had a problem. What are we supposed to think about the cars that you don't bring back to R&D? Are teams maybe getting things through that they shouldn't be getting through?
SCOTT MILLER: Well, we certainly can't bring the 40‑car field back to R&D. Here's‑‑ the situation with the question of we should catch everything pre‑race, well, we are certainly with the 40‑car field, we're under time constraints at the racetrack to do these inspections. We have small windows and tight windows to get the inspections done, and we might spend in the neighborhood of five minutes with each of the 40 cars for the three‑hour window that we have for inspection.
To think that we can scrutinize a car as good in five minutes and we can in three hours at the R&D Center is a bit unrealistic, but as I said earlier, we are looking at different things for next year, getting into stiffer consequences for the team for even unloading cars that we see are not legal in the first round of inspection.
We realize that we kind of probably need to ramp up the severity of what goes on at the racetrack, and we're hoping that we can change the culture to where we don't have to play this cat‑and‑mouse game with the teams all the time because we have to make it a little bit more consequence for them for‑‑ than just saying, take that off. Take that off isn't obviously working anymore. As I said earlier, we'll be looking at the entire deterrence model over the winter.
Q. A couple questions: This penalty, considering they have another encumbered win or whatever you want to call it, earlier in the year, could you have taken an even harsher stance, and also you talked about the part being altered or manipulated. Was that‑‑ from what you can tell, was that an intentional issue, or was it built that way on purpose, or do you think it was maybe just some kind of a manufacturer issue, since you're talking about 200 thousandths of an inch?
SCOTT MILLER: No, absolutely zero. A manufacturing tolerance would be 10 thousandths of an inch, not 300 thousandths of an inch. So yeah, absolutely 100 percent, no question, black and white. As black and white as it gets.
Q. On the severity because of what had happened earlier in the season, did y'all consider anything with that?
SCOTT MILLER: Well, we feel pretty strongly that right now we have, as you probably know, two levels of penalties. We have an L1 and an L2, and we were right on the verge of thinking that this might fall into the L2 category. Instead we went to the top end of the L1 category.
Q. Forgive me if I don't know this, but can you just clarify the at‑track inspection? Is the spoiler something that normally gets looked at, or does something like that have to be checked at the R&D Center?
SCOTT MILLER: To this‑‑ so there is a spoiler template that we lay up against the spoiler, and it's really‑‑ it's the profile of the spoiler, and like I said earlier, that checks the shape of the spoiler, and it checks the height of the spoiler. This met the shape and it met the height, and we don't check at track the offset of the spoiler because it's supposed to be a standard part that bolts to a standard deck lid. So that location of the spoiler to the deck lid is a given as long as the standard parts are used.
Q. And to be clear, Scott, you said that it was offset incorrectly to the right; is that correct?
SCOTT MILLER: Yeah, that's‑‑ yes, sir.
Q. Can you kind of go over what was the issue again with the rear spoiler of the 4 car? I understand an offset‑‑
SCOTT MILLER: It didn't meet the CAD file and it was offset to the right. It's really‑‑ there's no gray area or anything like that. It's as simple as that. It did not meet the CAD file. It was offset to the right.
Q. And I think I heard you mention after I jumped on, talking about checking the spoiler now, referring to inspection, does that‑‑ I know you said just earlier you check shape and size, so are you going to have to do something different? Are you planning to do something different in terms of inspecting the spoiler at Phoenix‑‑
SCOTT MILLER: Yeah, we'll have to take them off and match them up against the part that it's supposed to be.
Q. And I'm guessing, does that just add a couple minutes to the inspection process?
SCOTT MILLER: We will try to do that in pre‑inspection, and then I think that we have enough eyes to know if a spoiler comes off a car, then we go on high alert on that one.
Q. And also, does anything else change in terms of inspection, the procedures, process, the next two weeks in light of this, and I guess in light of the other infractions with the other two cars that were taken to the R&D Center?
SCOTT MILLER: No, not really. I mean, the things that we saw with the other two cars are things that we've been kind of battling all year and have had in good check, and then they cropped up again. I'm not sure if it was a, let's see what we can get through there, or they threw caution to the wind and weren't thinking they'd be going through there. It's actually kind of hard to tell what any of these guys are thinking these days.
Q. Is this just‑‑ you're a former crew chief, so you've been on both sides of this. Is this just part of the normal back and forth between teams and NASCAR, and sometimes lines are crossed? Or is this like now getting to the point of, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but a level of ridiculous?
SCOTT MILLER: So I don't know when you jumped on, but we definitely‑‑ I had said earlier that we're looking at the whole deterrence model and trying to review that over the winter and possibly put more teeth in it, because yeah, I think we're getting into borderline ridiculous territory.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, thank you for joining us this evening and providing this information. Very helpful to our media members. I want to thank you all of you for being so flexible.
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