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Newman Lacking Confidence in NASCAR’s Technical Inspection System

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When NASCAR unveiled the Laser Inspection System (LIS), it caught people’s attention in how the cars would be teched before events, with the grey area of the rulebook becoming that much thinner. However, there were some noticeable problems.

The sanctioning body has gone back to the drawing board and will debut the next version – the Hawkeye System. Set to be better in places where the other failed, it should close the door on what’s allowed and not even more, while not enduring the same previous issues.

Some of the drivers have expressed belief in the system, with the Ford drivers stating it should keep others, namely Toyota, closer to the tolerances than previously.

The same faith, though, is not shared by everybody.

“When the Hawkeye system goes down, what’s the backup plan?” Ryan Newman questioned on Media Day. “We don’t have enough people anymore, so what are we going to do, just sit in the garage and wait until we get the Hawkeye system back up and running? When we have a power outage, and things got to get rebooted or when something gets wet, what are we going to do?  How’s that part going to work?  Technology has made us dependent upon a lot of things technology‑wise, and when those things fail, a lot of us just scratch our head.” 

Technical inspection became the source of everyone’s attention because you want to make sure each competitor is within the rules for the fairest competition possible. However, it also became a story each week during qualifying, with drivers unable to make it out in time due to failing multiple times.

“When your 10, 15, 20 cars don’t make it out to qualify, it’s a black eye on our sport no matter how you look at it. When it happens two or three or four out of five weeks, that’s horrible, and they let it happen,” Newman said.

It’s easy to see that a change was necessary, as there were notable flaws with the LIS. Several teams noted if the weather changed, the LIS numbers would change.

“Everybody knew that, including NASCAR, but they couldn’t predict it, and they couldn’t create a source of error for it that was acceptable,” Newman said. “You could have a car that would pass one time, not change anything, roll around and it wouldn’t pass by a bigger margin than it ever should have.  There was a lot of frustrations with the LIS, and there was a crew chief that got fired because of the LIS that I know of, because he was frustrated with the fact that it was not repetitive.”

Despite his frustrations, Newman did not want to address his concerns with NASCAR, saying “that costs you money.”

“I’m just saying, you’ve got to be realistic about it,” he continued. “I know what the intentions are, but in the end, nobody at this point knows how well it’s going to be.  It’s costing our teams $350,000 to set up a Hawkeye system at our shop to be able to go to the racetrack and have our cars pass so that we can practice and race.”

With the sanctioning body putting in some effort, maybe praise for at least trying something should be included. However, with the competition as close as it is, and multi-millions tied up every which way, leaving areas for questions should not be tolerated.

One can only hope that the Hawkeye System lives up to expectations all year long.



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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.