NASCAR stands for “National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing” and, believe it or not, the drivers once raced cars that were factory-stock. That means, present-day race fans, that the cars driven at NASCAR races were once equipped with speedometers.
This is not the case now, which is rather mystifying, considering that penalties are assessed for speeding on Pit Road. In the Cup Race at Kentucky this weekend just past, Kyle Larson had to start the race at the rear of the grid due to finishing Tech Inspection late. He worked his way through the field during Stage One, only needing to pass two more cars to take the lead…
And then a speeding penalty planted him at the back of the pack yet again, and he had to start over. He finished Second behind the winner, Martin Truex Jr., but one has to wonder if that would have been the case without his mistake on Pit Road.
It’s an easier mistake to make than it ever has been, and more drivers are making it–ruining their chances for victory week after week. Without a speedometer, the driver has to estimate his actual speed based on the tach reading, and what the spotter tells him over the radio. But every single driver wants to gain, or at least maintain, grid position during pit stops, so they will push their cars as close to the speed limit as possible.
At least, that’s what they would do if they had a means to accurately gauge their speed. Then we’d see more races won or lost due to the collective effort of the respective race teams, instead of being penalized for failing to calculate what they are not allowed to measure.