The NASCAR Cup series admits it should have penalised Kevin Harvick during one of the pitstops that the Stewart-Haas Racing driver later branded “pathetic”, after further pitgun failures at Texas.
Harvick lost out in Sunday’s race to Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch, and was hampered by two botched pitstops having dominated early on.
The first problem was a pitgun failure that caused a lugnut to become jammed, dropping him down to ninth.
Seven laps later he was forced to return to pitroad with a loose wheel that put him a lap down on the field.
Harvick was handed a reprieve when Denny Hamlin trigged a large pile-up with Aric Almirola but, in a late stop with 44 laps to go, Harvick’s pitcrew dropped a wheel that was expected to trigger an uncontrolled tyre penalty.
The SHR driver was not penalised, despite Ryan Blaney being punished for a similar offence, and NASCAR has since admitted it made the wrong call.
NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, Scott Miller said: “It was a judgment call and, after conducting a post-race review of the incident, an uncontrolled tyre penalty for the #4 car would have been correct. We missed that call.”
Video: NASCAR explains pitlane penalty procedure
Harvick says his pitroad experiences were “pathetic”, and says he and SHR have raised the problem with NASCAR.
NASCAR had previously called an investigation into new-for-2018 pitguns after a string of failures at Atlanta, and told Autosport it had added a whip hose to connect guns to hoses in response to those issues.
It said that had “helped alleviate some of the issues we were seeing at Atlanta” but the problem has continued in subsequent races.
“We did overcome a lot [and] that was unfortunate,” said Harvick.
“We had a pathetic two days [Harvick contested the second-tier Xfinity race on Saturday] on pitroad because of pitguns.
“Today we had to pit under green [and] got ourselves a lap down because the pitguns work half the time, [and] they don’t work half the time.
“Our guys did a great job with a really fast racecar. I feel bad for the guys on pitroad because they get handed absolutely inconsistent pieces of equipment. Today it wound up costing us a race.
“We had four or five issues with the pitgun this year as we’ve gone through the year. It’s unfortunate that we have to use a piece of equipment that is handed to us, and that dictates your day.
“We’ve talked to them [NASCAR]. Everybody on pitroad has talked to them. This is four out of seven weeks that we’ve had trouble with the pit guns.
“Yesterday we had two lugnuts that were tight in the last two pitstops. You had two lug nuts that had 30 pounds of torque on them.
“Today you have another one, the wheel doesn’t even get tight. It’s just a mess.”
NASCAR added it was still investigating whether Harvick’s crew experienced any problems during Sunday’s race, with SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli uncertain if SHR had an issue with a gun.